The equation is increasingly predictable.
An African American is killed by police.
Controlling the narrative, police release their version of events and state that they had no other alternative but to use lethal force.
Eyewitnesses, recordings, and indisputable facts counter the police narrative and expose glaring inconsistencies in their story.
The character assassination of the shooting victim and his family begins.
The officers are not punished for what they did.
The family and community are left in a state of grief—fueled by a lack of closure or justice.
Tragically, this equation has been used over and over again and is proving itself to be quite effective at protecting police and infuriating communities all over the United States.
Do your own research, look at your own sources, and Google names like:
(Those six names could be exchanged with 600 more.)
In each case, you will find the above equation to work like a well-oiled machine. The police kill a black man, grossly misrepresent the facts, assassinate the character of the victim, and then completely get away with it.
Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by Cleveland police is the newest name we must add to the list. Seen on a local security camera loafing around a community park, alone, Tamir makes snowballs, walks around, and plays with a pellet gun.
Concerned, a man calls 911 to report Tamir. The call itself was actually very thorough and reported that Tamir appeared to be a young kid and that the gun he was flashing was likely fake.
Below the fold is the audio of the 911 call:
The 911 caller was sincere. We could debate whether or not the police would've been called if Tamir Rice was white, but the caller appears to have very legitimately described what he saw—including Tamir's young age and the likelihood that the pistol was not real.
These facts, tragically, were left out when the police dispatch operator radioed the call into local officers. In the dispatch, the operator leaves out the young age of Tamir, just 12, and the possibility that the gun was fake. Hear it below.
Given what they were given, the police should've replied to the dispatch with extreme caution. They had no idea if Tamir was 12 or 21 or if he had an air pistol from Walmart or a loaded 9 mm.
The police responded to the call, reporting what we now know was 12-year-old Tamir Rice with an unloaded and harmless air pistol, and shot him. He died hours later at a local Cleveland hospital.
Not knowing that a camera recorded the entire incident, the police told what appear to be at least five lies about what happened.
1. Police said that Tamir Rice was seated at a table with other people.
2. Police said that as they pulled up, they saw Tamir Rice grab the gun and put it in his waistband.
3. Police said they got out of the car and told Tamir Rice three times to put his hands up but he refused.
4. Police said that Tamir Rice then reached into his waistband and pulled out the gun, and was then shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann.
5. Timothy Loehmann was described as a rookie.
MSNBC's Chris Hayes very adeptly narrates us through the video of the shooting to show us that these five essential points aren't true at all.
1. Tamir Rice as not seated at a table with other people.
2. Tamir Rice does not appear to grab the gun and put it in his waistband.
3. Police shot and killed Tamir in less than two seconds and could not have told him to put his hands up three times.
4. Tamir Rice absolutely does not pull the air gun out of his waistband and brandish it in any way. This fact is so crucial.
5. Timothy Loehmann was not a rookie, but had been an officer for over two years.
We later learn that the officers on the scene refused Tamir Rice any type of first aid for four crucial minutes of his life. It was only when an FBI agent who happened to be near the scene arrived that he began giving Tamir the life support he needed, making it appear as if the officers may have actually wanted Tamir Rice to die after the shooting.
Soon, the character assassination began and the media began reporting that his father had been arrested for domestic violence and that his mother had had legal troubles before as well—implying that this criminality somehow should be reflected on how we view Tamir.
As expected, the officer's father and spokespeople are already claiming that the officer had no other choice.
But how can that be true? Virtually every other choice the officer could've made would have been better than the one he chose. Why did the officer lie and say Tamir was with a crew of people? Why did the officer lie and say Tamir brandished the weapon? Why did the officers pull up so closely to Tamir? How are we expected to believe that he was told three times to put his hands up in such a short period of time?
This never should've happened. Blaming their fear of Tamir or blaming their training, or lack thereof, or implying that the officer was too inexperienced on the job, are all completely unacceptable excuses and do nothing to give Tamir's family or the community even a small sense of peace or hope that anyone will be held responsible or that this won't continue to happen again and again.