Last night, a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed a 13-year-old Black boy named Tyree King. This is the police account of what happened:
Police in Columbus, Ohio, say officers were responding to a reported armed robbery Wednesday night when they encountered a person who pulled what appeared to be a gun from his waistband.If you're thinking this sounds a lot like the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, you're not wrong.
...The Columbus police said that officers were called about an armed robbery just after 7:40 p.m. Wednesday. When they arrived, the alleged robbery victim told officers that a group of people — one carrying what appeared to be a gun — demanded money, according to the police.
Officers then saw three people who matched the descriptions given and approached them. Two ran away, and the officers followed them into an alley and went to take them into custody, police said. At that point, "one suspect pulled a gun from his waistband," police officials said, and was shot by an officer.
...An officer opened fire, hitting this person "multiple times," according to Columbus police officials. He was pronounced dead not long afterward.
Early Thursday morning, police said the person killed was 13-year-old Tyree King. Detectives processing the area where the shooting occurred found what they said appeared to be a handgun, but "upon further inspection, it was determined to be a BB gun with an attached laser site," according to a statement from the Columbus police.
Some people may reflexively feel compelled to note, however, that Tamir Rice was merely playing on a playground, while Tyree King was a suspect in a robbery. But there's a reason I noted the above description of the crime is the police account. Because, as you may or may not recall, the original police account of Tamir Rice's murder was that he had been "threatening people with a gun" and pulled his (toy) gun out of his waistband, which video then showed to be utterly false.
So forgive me if I'm not inclined to unquestioningly believe the police account of one of their officers fatally shooting a child with a toy. Especially since that officer has reportedly been involved in three shootings in the last six years.
Now, all that said, even if it turns out that Tyree King had been involved in a robbery, that is still not a capital offense.
The Columbus police don't wear body cameras, so there is no known video of the shooting. There are, however, some witnesses. And as we have seen over and over, witness accounts tend to differ from the official account, so we'll have to wait and see if that's the case here.
My condolences to Tyree King's family, friends, classmates, and community. I'm so sorry.