12 Year Old Killed By Police; Darren Wilson Preps For TV Interview » VSB

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12 Year Old Killed By Police; Darren Wilson Preps For TV Interview

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It would be very difficult to find a juxtaposition that articulates how many Americans (Black and non-Black) feel about our country’s concept of justice better than two stories I read this morning.

From Tamir Rice Shooting by Cleveland Police Under Investigation:

The police shooting death of a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun in Cleveland has sparked an investigation — and questions over why officers opened fire instead of using a stun gun. Two officers have been placed on administrative leave pending a probe into Saturday’s shooting of Tamir Rice.

Tamir’s father, Gregory Henderson, questioned why police chose to open fire instead of use a stun gun on his son. “Why not tase him? You shot him twice, not once, and at the end of the day you all don’t shoot for the legs, you shoot for the upper body,” Henderson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Tamir — who was shot in the torso — died of his wounds on Sunday morning.

From Darren Wilson Auditioned a Bunch of TV Anchors This Week:

Turns out Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is only in hiding when he wants to be—over the last week or so, he reportedly auditioned at least five TV anchors at a “secret location” in preparation for a sympathetic interview.

Perhaps you believe Darren Wilson was in legitimate fear of his life. And maybe you think Tamir Rice’s death was unfortunate, but ultimately justified because his toy gun looked very much like a real gun. Considering what we know about each case, these are not completely unreasonable conclusions. But, to make those conclusions, you have to make certain interpretations; judgments influenced by a cocktail of your own personal feelings, experiences, biases, and opinions. Perhaps even a little bit of spin.

The following facts cannot be spun. They are clear and sober. Juxtaposed, the clarity and sobriety of these facts is jarring.

Darren Wilson, a White police officer who killed an unarmed Black teen, is currently preparing for his national network debut. He is carefully screening anchors and networks at a safe location, presumably to choose the combination that gives him the best chance of articulating his side of the story. While this is happening, the family of Tamir Rice is mourning and preparing to bury their son, a 12-year-old Black boy killed by the police. He will never be able to articulate his side of the story.


Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • He who thinks before he speaks

    “and questions over why officers opened fire instead of using a stun gun.”

    1. You don’t fight lethal force with non-lethal force.
    2. I can almost guarantee, when they asked the boy to put his hands up, their firearms were already drawn with the expectation that the boy’s firearm was real.

    While it’s good to see people more aware and critical of police and their treatment of minorities, I don’t see anything suspect from what we know so far with the Tamir Rice shooting.

    • Wild Cougar

      Lethal force always seems to be used when it’s us. When they are white, they figure out ways to not shoot.

      • He who thinks before he speaks

        White people get shot too if they are brandishing firearms. It’s the unarmed ones who don’t.

  • JOhn Crawford

    I live near that rec center……. Both the cops and Tamir’s parents caused this- shooting a Kid KNOWING that the gun was fake (as told in the 911 call) and for the Parents to buy a toy that looks so real AND, for that orange tip to be taken off easily.

    Both are to blame. They are and it’s Truth. As a Parent and a Former Kid that had a realistic toy gun myself, that was not good nor smart on all parties. The kid didn’t deserve to die at all

    • Meridian

      When I was in gun training I carried around an airsoft Desert Eagle in my car. It was an exact replica so that I would know how it worked, how to take it apart, clean it, reassemble, make adjustments to it, etc. I painted it black so it by all means looked like a real gun. I was pulled over a number of times and the cops didn’t really bother me too much about it. Maybe it’s where I live. Maybe the cops around here are just super professional or well adjusted. I don’t know. Shooting a child should never be the automatic response.

    • He who thinks before he speaks

      “- shooting a Kid KNOWING that the gun was fake”

      The officers weren’t told the firearm was fake per the article linked.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      It would have been handled differently if a white child was involved.
      From people being comfortable with a kid holding a real gun, to a 911 call not being made, to cops not shooting first out of fear and asking questions later.

  • Meridian

    My response to this is definitely not normal. Stories like this have an odd way of desensitizing me in that I no longer mourn the individual accounts of such events. There’s too many to be upset at every instance of it. I just see that cops kill black children unjustifiably, and frequently, to the point that it warrants recognizing it as a single problem. Identifying said problem and eliminating it from our society is the response I have to this. It shouldn’t happen anymore.

  • Pinks

    Sigh. I saw this on the news and was saddened because

    1). he was 12
    2). he was 12 with a realistic-looking gun
    3). realistic-looking guns are marketed and sold to young children
    4). this is not the first or last time something like this has/will happen.

    i’m very sad for his parents, but also upset that he had this object as a toy.

    • ED

      According to CNN a 911 caller described him as “probably a juvenile” and the gun as “probably fake”. The article said the deputy chief said the boy didn’t point the gun at the two officers, nor did he threaten them in any other way but he did reach for the weapon

    • Sgt. Pepper’s

      Number three was the first thing that popped into my mind. Who in their right mind would give a 12 year old a realistic looking gun full well knowing the gun culture prevelent in the states

  • Do they not put the orange tabs on the muzzles of replica/bb guns anymore?

    • ED

      It had supposedly been removed.

    • Freebird

      he removed it.

      • Sgt. Pepper’s

        Exactly what type of gun was it

        • Freebird

          not sure what type.

      • man

  • h.h.h.

    i dunno

  • CKJ

    I wish people would stop talking about what’s justifiable and what’s not justifiable. It’s important but it’s not the issue that triggering these split second reactions. Of course it’s acceptable for an officer to react with deadly force if he says/thought he was faced with it. The issue is why officers always seem to go this route…..and somehow take a guy who shots up a movie theater alive. And the man holding a toy gun in Walmart didn’t even get a warning. Unfortunately, the answer to that question isn’t going to send people to jail, but that’s the issue. Never going to win this justifiable vs unjustifiable argument. Especially when one person in the altercation can’t tell his side of the story and will never get the benefit of the doubt.

    • He who thinks before he speaks

      Don’t read too deep in the Aurora capture. They thought he was a cop at first. There are times when people should be outraged about the police, like the NYPD shooting of Akai Gurley. This shooting was just unfortunate and a tragedy, but I don’t believe malice or ignorance played a part.

      • He who thinks before he speaks

        Seriously, why the f*** are we not talking about Akai Gurley?! That was way worse than the Mike Brown or Tamil Rice shootings.


      • CKJ

        The answer to the question I asked and the Akai Gurley story you cited definitely have similar tones. The fact that there seems to not really have been any confrontation at all just makes that story extremely odd. Don’t really know what to think.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    That’s how they did that brother in Ohio. Minding his own business in Wal-Mart. Some do-gooder white person is so afraid of a black man with a bb gun that the cops get called in. Before you know it, brother gets shot. And the white guy who started the sequence of events later recants the more sensational aspects of his story.

    *Taylor Swift shrug*

    These are not isolated incidents. This isn’t a new disturbing trend.
    This is business as usual.

    • Meridian

      I don’t think it is business as usual. I think this is something that happens as a result of our society being set up the way it is but in a few years, with all the pushback such things are getting from the citizens of this country, it won’t be that way anymore. It’s a societal norm being put on front street so that it can be properly dealt with. Not yielded to. That isn’t business as usual.

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    To add to this chain of events


    I’m numbed out. Got nothing for this. Just waiting to see if my card ever gets called at this point.

  • Sickening. First, I’ll say kids should not own toy guns. I believe it sends the wrong message to our children, and two, there are a plethora of toys out there to play with. Growing up, my parents refused to get my brother a toy gun. My brother also did the same thing with his sons. In both cases, they were careful about the message they sent in raising their children. However, I am not for regulating our children’s toys – we have to teach our black kids how to exist and survive while in public and now we have to regulate what they play with?

    When it comes to dealing with black people, I am tired of cops that resort to these “shoot to kill” tactics. Please stop using the ” I was in fear for my life” line because it is a cop out. I watched an interview this morning that talked about howthese rookie cops are frightened when they go out into the streets. If you’re that fearful then perhaps you should have picked another profession.

    • Meridian

      Considering the world we live in, I’m definitely familiarizing my kids with guns. Mostly because I need them to know gun safety when it comes to the use of real ones, but also because a toy doesn’t automatically qualify someone for extrajudicial murder. I want them to know they live in a world where people have to use sense and better judgment. Where no one confronts them because they inherently check their ridiculous notions and rationalizations before engaging in impulsive behaviors. Besides! I can’t have my kids running around without a knowledge of all the weapons they’ll be in contact with. I’m not really concerned with the message being sent. My parents made it a point to train me in multiple disciplines and I want my children to have that same expertise. A toy is a toy. People are walking around killing children so I want mine to be adequately prepared to handle such a person.

      • Give me a day or two to comment to your response. I just can’t right now.

    • LMNOP

      Maybe kids shouldn’t have realistic looking toy guns. They DEFINITELY shouldn’t pay for it with their lives.

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