In the wake of the police fatal shooting of an Ohio 12-year-old boy who was brandishing an air pistol, the child's father is asking why police couldn't have resorted to using lesser force – a taser – and the online hacking consortium Anonymous is echoing the call.
"Why not taze him?" Gregory Henderson, Tamir Rice's father, posed to Northeast Ohio Media Group. "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."
Then Anonymous blamed the Cleveland police department for a "lack of appropriate training" for the admittedly "rookie officer" who shot the boy in a statement in warning they would shut down police websites – and later, it was reported that the city of Cleveland website was disabled.
"Why did he not use a Taser on this child? Shooting him in cold blood was not necessary with these non-lethal options available," a man behind a Guy Fawkes mask says in a YouTube video that appears to come from the group.
The man who called Cleveland police said the gun was "probably fake" and that the "guy" waving it was scaring people, The New York Daily News reported.
Cleveland Deputy Chief Edward Tomba says he doesn't know whether a 911 dispatcher told responding officers that the gun was "probably fake."
Dispatched police said they were responding to reports of a "male with a gun threatening," and Tamir did not follow orders from the officers to keep his hands up, according to Northeast Ohio Media Group. Tomba says surveillance video of the shooting is "very clear" about what occurred.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association president Jeff Follmer said taking a Taser out when it is believed a suspect is armed puts the officer at risk.
"We're not trained to shoot people in the leg," Follmer said. "If we pull that trigger, we feel our lives are in danger."
Anonymous anticipated this response: "The excuse 'we feared for our lives' is ludicrous when the victim was only 12 years old and only had possession of a toy airsoft gun."
Cleveland police's Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team is investigating the shooting, and evidence will be turned over to a grand jury to decide if it was justified.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Alice Reece, a Democrat from Cincinnati and the president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, announced Sunday that she will introduce legislation requiring all BB guns, air rifles and airsoft guns sold in Ohio to be brightly colored or have prominent fluorescent strips, The Associated Press reported.
The replica pistol used by Tamir Rice, did not have any bright markers, so it looked like a real gun, said Cleveland police.
"The shooting of John Crawford III devastated many people in our community and left us looking for answers," Reece said in a news release. "This bill is but one small step in addressing this tragedy and helping to prevent future deadly confrontations with someone who clearly presents little to no immediate threat or danger. With Saturday's deadly shooting of a 12-year-old in Cleveland, it is becoming crystal clear that we need this law in Ohio."