Even as a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury is expected to announce its decision on whether to indict a police officer who shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown in August, an officer in Ohio Sunday shot a 12-year-old African-American boy in a Cleveland park after he brandished a fake pistol without pointing at police.
One of the two officers in the playground, who has not been identified by police, fired twice after the boy, identified as Tamir E. Rice, pulled the fake weapon, which was lacking the orange safety indicator normally found on the muzzle, from his waistband without pointing it at police or making any verbal threats, The Associated Press quoted Deputy Chief Ed Tomba as saying.
Rice, who was shot in the torso, died at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland on Sunday, the day after the incident.
Both officers have been placed on administrative leave, and police as well as the county prosecutor's office are investigating.
According to the man who called 911, the boy was on a swing set and pointing a pistol out of his pants that was "probably fake." The caller was quoted as telling dispatchers, "I don't know if it's real or not."
However, Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, was quoted as saying that the officers were not told that the caller said the gun might be fake.
The boy lived near the playground and was there with friends and family, The New York Times quoted a family lawyer, Timothy Kucharski, as saying.
Kucharski will conduct his own investigation as well as review the police's investigation to find out "how exactly an innocent young 12-year-old boy could be killed playing at the park."
"His mother is devastated. We'd love to have the prayers of the community right now," he said.
Kucharski added that the race of the officer is not known, and that, besides, the incident does not appear to have anything to do with race.
The Ohio incident comes as the grand jury decision is expected on whether or not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for shooting to death Brown in Ferguson.
Brown, who had stolen cigars from a QuikTrip convenience store, as seen on a video surveillance tape, was shot dead by the officer moments later while responding to a 911 call on Aug. 9. The incident sparked protests, riots, looting and violent clashes with police.
Layers of emergency plans have been set up and President Obama has called for calm in Ferguson.
Police claim the officer did not know Brown was a suspect when he stopped him and his friend. The two were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic, and when the officer encountered them he saw the cigars in Brown's hands, police say.
The officer allegedly received injuries to his face during the encounter with Brown. Brown's friend, Johnson, earlier claimed that the officer pointed a gun at Brown and said, "I'll shoot."