Tamir Rice, a 12 year-old boy killed by police after officers mistook a toy gun he was carrying for a real weapon, might still be alive today if a 911 dispatcher hadn’t left out a key detail when she sent police to Rice’s location — the 911 caller who contacted the police about Rice said that Rice’s gun was “probably fake.”
An audio recording of the 911 caller emerged just days after a video showed police tackling Tamir Rice’s sister to the ground while her brother laid bleeding nearby.
On the day that officers drove up to Rice, shot him dead, and refused to administer medical assistance, an unidentified caller alerted a dispatcher about a kid wielding a gun. However, the caller also noted that the weapon could have been a toy. “It’s probably a fake. But you know what? It’s scaring the shit out of me,” the person said.
When dispatcher Beth Mandl reported the call to officers, she omitted the comment about the gun possibly being fake. “[The caller] says he’s pulling a gun out of his pants,” she said after describing what Rice was wearing that day, according to a report by the Courier-Post. The report also notes that it is not yet clear whether this error was Mandl’s or whether “the person who took the original 911 call” failed to convey this detail to the dispatcher.
Although the detail may not have changed Rice’s fate, it does raise questions about why Mandl excluded the information. Northeast Ohio Media Group found that Mandl was fired from another dispatch position in 2008, after violating a concealed carry law. Additionally, the Department of Justice concluded that the city’s police officers “too often use unnecessary and unreasonable force in violation of the Constitution.”
Listen to some of the video recording below.