*A recent Facebook post referencing the death of Tamir Rice has resulted in an apology from the St. Louis County Police.
The Huffington Post reports that Chief Jon Belmar wrote the apology in response to criticism over the post, which implied that Rice’s behavior may have contributed to his death at the hands of a rookie Cleveland police officer.
“I apologize to Tamir’s family and anyone who was offended by the post,” Belmar wrote in a Facebook post. “I was unaware of its presence prior to its release, I realize the message was insensitive to Tamir’s family and the sorrow they are currently experiencing.”
The post, titled “Kids Will Be Kids?,” appeared on the Facebook page of the SLCPD’s City of Fenton precinct. Rice’s death in Cleveland was used in the post as an example of “a ‘hot’ topic” that residents should be aware of — the risk of police getting called on children playing with pellet guns and AirSoft guns in their neighborhoods.
Speaking with Mediaite, the writer of the post, Aaron Dilks stated that his goal was to encourage conversation between parents and kids about playing with realistic-looking pellet guns.
“The point of ‘Kids Will Be Kids’ is that’s what kids will do … The point of putting [the post] out was to educate and make sure something like this doesn’t happen in the city of Fenton or in our area,” said Dilks, a neighborhood police officer.
Despite the intention, using Rice as an example as well as the underlying implication that police in the 12-year-old’s case responded appropriately struck a sour note with those who voiced their criticism on social media. As a result, the post was removed Thursday morning by the police department.
The removal and apology is the latest development in the aftermath of Rice’s death. The young boy was fatally shot in November after playing with an AirSoft handgun in a park. The Post noted that Rice’s handgun, which shoots plastic pellets, had its orange tip removed. According to documents released this week, Timothy Loehman, the Cleveland cop who shot Rice, had resigned from a previous law enforcement job shortly after he was deemed unfit for policing.
Although he admitted that “I do not know all the details of the story,” Dilks said he used Tamir’s death as an example, in his post. Although it didn’t lean towards a particular side in Rice’s case, the post suggested that changes in the behavior of kids, rather than police procedures, would prevent similar shootings.
Growing tension surrounding Rice’s death comes amid protests held across the country in response to the non-indictment of New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner on Wednesday and Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown last week.
To read Dilks’ entire “Kids Will Be Kids?” post, scroll down below: