Do not play ‘Cops and Robbers’ in the US

It happened again. A 12-year-old boy was shot to death in a public park in Cleveland by two police officers, last Saturday November 22nd. It was the eighth death by firearms in one day, in the US.

The two Ohio policemen had come to the Cudell Recreation Center after having received a call by someone asking for them to intervene, because a young boy was pointing a gun around.

They found out that the gun was a replica only after having shot and killed the child. Indeed, he was just playing in the park, but he made the mistake of refusing to obey the officers’ order to show the hands, trying instead to grab the gun and to point it to them. So, they shot him twice on his torso.

It is nothing new in the US.

It is calculated that around 500 civilians are killed every year by the US police.

This, on a total number of 11.178 shooting victims, in the country, since the first of January of this year – at this pace, last year’s result of 11.419 casualties will be easily beaten, given the fact that the daily average of deaths for gun violence was around 30, in 2013.

Schermata 2014-11-24 alle 23.56.07

Anyway, in this particular case the gun the boy was holding did not have the usual orange safety indicator on the muzzle, and so the two officers had some reasons to think that it may be a real one.

But is that enough to justify the actions of the officers?

“There is a guy and he holds a pistol, he is pointing it at everybody,” the man that called the police said, adding that the gun “is probably fake” but that “he is scaring the shit out” of them.

The BB gun resembling a semi-automatic pistol. (Photograph: Cory Schaffer/AP)

Their fear may has been justified. In the United States, there are 88 guns per 100 people. It is the highest average in the world, a number that puts America at the top of world rankings for gun ownership – although they are not the first regarding the firearm murder rate.

That is to say, to the people who were in the park that afternoon there was a very real chance the gun was not a toy.

Nonetheless, the man that called the police clearly said another important thing: he stressed that the gun was “probably fake.”

Was it because he was equally scared of a possible overreaction of the officers?

by Emanuele Del Rosso


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