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Cuyahoga County

Neighbor says he removed orange tip from the BB gun that led to boy's shooting death by Cleveland police
Tamir Rice, 12, was shot and killed by police when he reportedly reached for a BB gun

Kabir Bhatia
By Sunday morning, a small memorial for 12-year-old Tamir Rice was in place at Cudell Rec Center on Cleveland's west side. A group of his friends had gathered, and said they had warned Rice to be careful about playing with a realistic-looking BB gun
Courtesy of K. Bhatia
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A teenage neighbor says he's the one who gave a 12-year-old boy the BB gun that led to his being shot to death by a police officer Saturday afternoon in Cleveland. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports.
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Tenth-grader Kevin Mimms is a frequent visitor to Cudell Recreation Center on Cleveland's west side. And he lives across from Tamir Rice, shot and killed Saturday. Mimms says he's the one who removed the orange safety tip of the BB gun, but that the BBs themselves were green. 

“Like, I was here with him when he had it, and I knew I shouldn’t have left. Because I told him he had to be careful with it. And it looked it real when he had it.” 

Mimms was visibly shaken Sunday as he visited the makeshift memorial for his 12-year-old friend, but said he had to go back. 

"I have to do -- as [I'm] becoming a young man -- I have to accept the responsibility that part of this was my fault.  And that I had to go back to show my respect.  That I'm not just cold and heartless.” 

The boy's mother has retained an attorney. Calls for comment Sunday were not returned by the City of Cleveland or the union representing Cleveland patrol officers. 

A leader in the black community says the shooting could be the catalyst for dialogue, or disaster. Art McKoy founded the anti-crime non-profit Black On Black Crime. He says he’s had his differences in the past with Steve Loomis, incoming head of the Cleveland police union, but he’s hopeful for a dialogue on the matter.  

“Loomis is changed enough, and I’ve changed enough to be able to work together to bring some good resolve to what’s happening in our community today. If this doesn’t happen, Cleveland -- along with some of the other cities – there’s a good chance that there will be civil unrest by 2015.”
Police say a rookie officer fired two shots after Rice pulled the BB gun from his waistband. A caller to 9-1-1 -- who reported the boy had been waving a gun around -- told dispatchers twice the gun was probably a fake. But that information apparently was not relayed to the officers responding to the call.
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