By Charles M. Blow
The New York Times
An extended video released last week of the shooting death of Tamir Rice in Cleveland appears to show an unconscionable level of human depravity on the part of the officer who shot him, a stunning disregard for the value of his life and a callousness toward the people who loved him.
His black life didn't seem to matter. But it does.
On Nov. 22, two officers responded to a 911 call about a "guy" in a park pointing a gun that was "probably fake." (By the way, Ohio is an open-carry state, so having and carrying a gun is not a crime in and of itself.)
The guy was Tamir. He had a pellet gun. There is no indication in police statements that he ever fired it.
One of the officers, Timothy Loehmann, shot Tamir within "1.5 to two seconds" of arriving at the park. Two seconds. So quickly. In the blink of an eye. And yet, according to The Associated Press, the officers say that they ordered Tamir to put his hands up three times before he was shot. All in 1.5 to 2 seconds? Really.
When one of the officers called in the shooting, he said: "Shots fired, male down, black male, maybe 20." Tamir was 12.
Tamir's 14-year-old sister, Tajai, was in a nearby recreation center when she heard a gunshot. Someone told her that her brother had been shot. She raced to his aid, but as the video shows, one of the officers tackled her, handcuffed her and stuffed her into the back of the police cruiser, just feet away from where her brother was bleeding out onto the snow-dappled ground.
She could not reach him. Her arms could not cradle his body and plead for him to hang on. Her eyes could not gaze into his and say what sisters are able to say without saying anything: "I love you."
Four minutes passed without anyone offering the boy aid or comfort. How excruciating must the pain have been? How great must his fear and sadness have been? What must Tamir have thought as the officers hovered about, not helping him?
Tamir died from his wound the next day.
It is hard to think of the gravely injured boy and the aloof officers who'd done the deed but withheld their help, and not reach a white-hot level of righteous indignation.
Tamir was a human being, a child — who could have been any of our children, and who was robbed of his life and therefore his future. Twelve years old. That's just a baby, a baby with a hole in his belly. This wrong must be made right.
There is a basic respect for life that should have governed that day, and which seems, in the video, shockingly absent from it.
Not only is the shooting itself disturbing, but the failure to render aid is unconscionable. The world must be made to acknowledge that Tamir Rice's life mattered.