The mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old African-American boy who was fatally shot by a rookie police officer last month in Cleveland, said Monday that she would press for the officer to be indicted on criminal charges.
In a telephone interview, the mother, Samaria Rice, 37, said the pellet gun that Tamir was holding when he was killed at a recreation center on Nov. 22 had been given to him to play with by a friend just minutes before the police arrived.
“It wasn’t his gun at all,” Ms. Rice said. “I don’t allow that type of thing at my house.”
Her son had just gone to the recreation center with his 14-year-old sister, who was inside when someone told her that there had been a shooting outside, Ms. Rice said. “My daughter ran outside, and police tackled her and put her in handcuffs and put her in the police car.”
When Ms. Rice arrived — two boys had come to her door and told her son had been shot — the police “never let me get to him,” she said. “They told me if I didn’t calm down, they were going to arrest me and put me in the back of the police car.”
A spokesman for the Cleveland police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Ms. Rice’s statements.
The shooting enraged many people in Cleveland, which is majority black, who have long said that the city’s police officers use excessive force. The complaints of the residents echoed the findings last week of an 18-month Department of Justice investigation that found a pattern of “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” by the city’s police.
Coming after the police shooting death of Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Mo., and the choking death of Eric Garner, 43, in Staten Island, the killing of Tamir Rice has become another symbol to many in the African-American community, and others, of the lack of accountability of many police departments in the use of force against minorities.