Since Ferguson, police have killed more than a dozen teenagers, half of them black. Some did nothing more than carry a BB gun.
ichael Brown’s death on August 9 was a nationwide wake-up call to the death-by-cop of young minority men at the hands of law enforcement. According to data stretching from 1999 to 2011, African Americans have comprised 26 percent of all police-shooting victims. Overall, young African Americans are killed by cops 4.5 times more often than people of other races and ages.
Since Brown’s death, at least 14 other teenagers—at least six of them African-American—have been killed by law enforcement in a variety of circumstances.
Tamir Rice wasn’t yet a teenager when he was killed on November 22 in a Cleveland, Ohio park. The 12-year-old boy was shot by a police officer after brandishing what turned out to be a BB gun. A call made to police beforehand described Rice as “a guy with a pistol” on a swing set, but said it was “probably fake.” When officers arrived at the scene, they say Rice reached for his toy, though did not point it at them, prompting a first-year policeman to fire two shots at the Rice from a short distance.
On Monday night, as the Brown indictment verdict was announced, a local councilor summed these up without getting tangling in blame and legalities:
“Perhaps, after our analysis, we learn that the police officer really did fear for his life and did everything right under the circumstances,” City Councilman Jeffrey Johnson said at a meeting. “But there is something fundamentally broken in our system when a young man can have a legal BB gun, and by the end of that day be killed by a Cleveland police officer.”
On the evening of September 21, police were called to check on reports of trespassers with weapons going into an abandoned home in Terrebonne, Louisiana. Cameron Tillman, a 14-year-old boy was shot dead on the scene by a sheriff’s deputy. His brother, who was there, said he was shot opening the door and was unarmed, but the police said he was armed and that a gun was recovered near his body. It was later reported that the weapon was a BB gun that appeared to be a .45-caliber pistol. The The cop was not named, but was identified as an African-American veteran of the division with no prior infractions.
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