CLEVELAND (AP) — A Cleveland officer was less than 10 feet away when he fatally shot a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun near a playground, and video of the shooting is clear about what happened, police said Monday.
The boy was confronted Saturday by officers responding to a 911 call about a male who appeared to be pulling a gun in and out of his pants.
The 911 caller said the gun was "probably fake," then added, "I don't know if it's real or not." Deputy Chief Edward Tomba said Monday that he didn't know whether a dispatcher shared that information with responding officers.
The president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association has said the officers weren't told the caller thought the gun might be fake.
Police say Tamir Rice, who died Sunday, had an "airsoft" gun that appeared indistinguishable from a real firearm. Airsoft guns fire spherical plastic pellets and have orange tips to show they aren't real firearms, but police said the one the boy had didn't have the bright safety indicator.
They say the boy was told to raise his hands and was shot when he pulled the pellet gun from his waistband, though he hadn't pointed it at police or made verbal threats.
"Our officers at times are required to make critical decisions in a split second," Chief Calvin Williams said. "Unfortunately this is one of those times."
Tomba said surveillance video of the shooting is "very clear" about what occurred, but he wouldn't discuss details of what it shows.
People representing the boy's family viewed the video Monday, but police didn't release it publicly because it is evidence in the investigation and because they want to be sensitive to the family, the community and the officer, who is distraught, officials said.
The shooting has led to an investigation of the officer's use of force. It also contributed to a state lawmaker's plan to propose legislation requiring all BB guns, air rifles and airsoft guns sold in Ohio to be brightly colored or have prominent fluorescent strips.
The two officers involved in the shooting were put on administrative leave under standard procedure. Police haven't publicly identified them.
Once the investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury to decide whether any criminal charges should be brought, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said.
An attorney for the boy's family, Timothy Kucharski, has said Tamir went to the park with friends Saturday afternoon, but he did not know the details of what led to his shooting. Kucharski said he wants to talk to witnesses himself and get more facts.
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An autopsy has begun on a Kansas woman who died this weekend, days after she was sexually assaulted and set on fire in a Wichita park, a county official said Monday.
Sedgwick County spokeswoman Brittany Clampitt said coroner's office officials were investigating, but it wasn't clear when the examination would be complete.
Family members held a memorial for Letitia "Tish" Davis on Sunday evening in Wichita's Fairmount Park, where she was found Nov. 14 with burns on more than half her body and cuts on her head.
They remembered her as a loving mother of four. Marcie Bell called Davis "truly a beautiful person."
"This is my way to tell her she will never be forgotten," Bell told The Wichita Eagle.
Cornell McNeal has been jailed and charged with attempted murder and rape. He doesn't yet have a lawyer, according to court records and the Sedgwick County Public Defender's office.
Police Lt. James Espinoza told The Eagle that charges against McNeal would be amended after Davis died Saturday. He hasn't returned messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. A capital charge could make McNeal eligible for the death penalty.
District attorney's office spokeswoman Georgia Cole said Monday that prosecutors would determine "what charges are appropriate based on new evidence," which would include the results of the autopsy.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — People in storm-socked areas around Buffalo began returning to work on Monday as fast-melting mounds of snow fed into creeks that were starting to swell.
It was not clear how widespread flooding would be almost a week after western New York was pummeled by epic snowfall. Thermometer readings were approaching 60 degrees by midmorning, and some residents of the Buffalo area were out and about in T-shirts riding bicycles while others focused on the tasks at hand.
David Fruehauf, 71, was out early clearing leaves from a storm drain in front of his house in suburban Orchard Park.
"These are the enemies of a sewer," Fruehauf said, staring down at leaves surrounding the drain. There's still a long ways to go. The stuff is shrinking, but it's got to have a place to go."
Families rushed to pack up their valuables and schools closed in advance — not of snow but possible flooding.
Temperatures were expected to hit nearly 60 degrees, causing Buffalo area residents to prepare for evacuations caused by runoff from melting snow, and overflowing creeks.
"Hopefully, the rain won't be here until later and this will be a slow thaw, but flooding is our major, major concern here," said Michelle Pikula, whose house is along the Buffalo Creek.
The National Weather Service said rain overnight into Monday amounted to about one-tenth of an inch across the areas that had received the heaviest snowfall. Forecasts call for rain showers on Monday and a chance of rain and snow showers by early Tuesday.
The NWS has issued a flood warning for Monday and cautioned that trees weakened by heavy snowfall and saturated soil could come crashing down. High wind gusts of up to 60 mph also could topple electrical wires and trigger power outages.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday warned residents in flood-prone areas around Buffalo to move valuables up from the basement, pack a bag and prepare for the possibility of evacuation.
"Err on the side of caution," Cuomo said at a news conference in Cheektowaga. "You prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and that's what we're doing."
Most snow-affected school districts remain closed Monday, and at least four called off classes for the entire Thanksgiving week.
In Hamburg, Pete Yeskoot bought a portable generator to make sure his sump pump will keep working once the roughly 80 inches of snow that fell on his property melts. Possessions are up on blocks in the basement and he has food for several days.
"Behind us is an 18-mile creek so everything in the village will come through us at some point, so we have to get ready for the possibility of flooding," he said. "And given all this snow, we have to expect that this is real."
National Guard members spent Sunday clearing storm drains and culverts to facilitate runoff, and shoveling snow off roofs.
Cuomo said evacuation plans and emergency shelters were being readied in case of flooding. As a backup to Red Cross shelters, Cuomo said the state would have shelters at community colleges and state university campuses.
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — A grand jury has reached a decision about whether to indict a Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown, media outlets reported Monday, citing unidentified sources.