Reasonableness and the Killing of Tamir Rice

Last week, a group of legal experts ruled the November 2014 police shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice “objectively reasonable.” Rice was shot as he sat in a local park, near the recreation center where he frequently played, holding a pellet gun. When officers responded to 911 calls that a “guy was sitting in the park pointing a gun at people,” they did not know that 195-pound Tamir Rice was only 12. But there were exactly four seconds between the time that the police cruiser pulls into the frame of the surveillance camera that recorded this incident and the time that Tamir Rice drops to the ground. There are less than two seconds between the time the police make contact with Tamir and the time he falls to the ground. That means there was almost no time for the officers to communicate any set of instructions to the boy about what they wanted or what they needed him to do. They drove up and started shooting.

This is unreasonable.

A 12-year old Black boy is dead for playing with a toy gun in a park in his community. But his family and community are told by the experts that while his death is “tragic” it is also “objectively reasonable.” Black communities have long known that they should question official and legal standards of “expertise,” “objectivity,” and “reason.”

Read on.