An Ohio judge decided to teach two boys playing with BB guns at a park a valuable lesson about the hard choices police officers have to make–as well as the potential danger they were putting themselves in.
It started when someone saw the two boys, ages 12 and 15, playing with the guns and called 911. The 911 dispatcher told police that the witness was unsure whether the gun was real or fake.
As you can see below, the total time from when officers arrived on the scene to when the boys were handcuffed and in police cars was brief — less than two and a half minutes:
At their sentencing, the judge, Je’Nine Nickerson, made them write essays about Tamir Rice. The reason: To give them a better understanding of what cops see when they respond to a call.
Cleveland.com reported that:
Nickerson asked both boys if they knew about Tamir and both boys said, “yes.”
“It is a very fine line when people have to make split-second decisions as to what is a BB gun and what is a gun,” Nickerson said. “When a police officer has to respond, in this particular climate, you are putting yourself at risk. You have to understand that your actions have consequences.”
The 15-year-old has to pay more than $160 in court costs and the younger boy, now 13, must pay about $150. Both must write the judge a report on how their cases are different and how they are similar to the Tamir case.
Rice is a twelve-year-old who was killed last year in an officer-involved shooting in Cleveland, Ohio, after a 911 call came in reporting a boy brandishing a weapon.
At the time, officers didn’t know if the pellet gun Rice was flashing was a “real gun.”
Surveillance images from both of these incidents reveal striking visual similarities.
Here is Tamir Rice:
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And here are the two boys:
— RT America (@RT_America) July 5, 2016
Police officers are faced with split-second, life or death decisions every day. An officer’s ability to react to a threat is essential, as noted by San Diego Police Officer Ken Kries in a statement to the San Diego Tribune on a piece about the use of deadly force:
“There’s a potential with everybody I talk to that this could turn into a lethal force situation, and I have to be ready every single time. It happens so quick.
The officer is always going to react to the suspect’s threat, which will always put him behind, no matter what. They are taking in a lot of information in a short period of time and have to formulate a plan just like that.”
According to the boys’ attorneys, the judge’s unique sentence had an impact on them, with the lawyer for the 15-year-old saying, “[He] has a much deeper understanding about what happened, and he regrets making the decision to do that.”
Source: independent journal
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