US police kill 28 people carrying ‘guns’ similar to Tamir Rice’s

US police killed 28 people in 2015 who were mistaken for carrying deadly weapons. © Jim Young
US police killed 28 people mistakenly thought to be carrying deadly weapons in 2015. California will introduce new laws as of January 1 aimed at making the distinction between non-lethal weapons and deadly weapons clearer.

The worrying statistics from a Guardian study come after a grand jury declined to criminally charge the officer involved in the 2014 killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on December 28. Timothy Loehmann opened fire on Rice at a park in Cleveland thinking the child was carrying a deadly weapon. As it turned out, Rice had been playing with a toy pellet gun.

READ MORE: Street protests, McGinty and Lebron: Cleveland reacts to Tamir Rice decision

In 2015, BB and pellet guns were alleged weapons in 28 recorded police killings, including that of 22-year-old John Crawford, who was shot dead after picking up a toy gun in a Walmart in Ohio.

READ MORE: Family of John Crawford files wrongful death suit against police, Walmart

California will introduce laws on January 1 aimed at making non-lethal weapons easier to distinguish from deadly weapons. Under the new requirements non-lethal guns will be required to be brightly colored.

BB guns or any “imitation firearm” are required to be “white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color in combination with other colors in any pattern,” according to the new Senate Bill.

Governor Jerry Brown introduced the laws after 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot dead by a Sheriff’s Deputy in Santa Rosa in 2013 when the boy’s BB pellet rifle was mistaken for a real gun. No charges were brought against Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus either.

Also in California, Ernesto Flores was shot dead in San Bernardino in April of this year after pointing a BB pellet gun at police officers, despite the officers receiving warning from the man’s daughter that he was not armed with a lethal weapon.

A total of 1,126 people have been killed by police in America in 2015. There were 567 white victims, accounting for 2.86 per million people in the US’ white population, and 294 black victims accounting for 6.99 per million in the black population. Native Americans had the second highest rate per million at 3.4, with a total of 13 victims.