The deceit regarding Tamir Rice

“Deceit” isn’t quite the right word; misdirection might be better.

The media, over and over again, have described the late Tamir Rice, victim of a police shooting, as “a 12 year old boy”.
Well, that is certainly true, but it omits the fact that
he was a very, very exceptional 12 year old boy.
Specifically, he had the size of a fully-grown man,
and a quite heavy one at that.
The police officer who shot him had no way of knowing, just by looking at him, his age.
Rice was the size of an adult, and really,
why should the police officer have thought he was anything else?

Let’s look at some specifics to back up the generalizations in the above.

First, there is Rice’s autopsy,
also mentioned in this cleveland.com news story,
which describes Rice’s vital statistics as

Second, just how does that stand relative to the typical 12-year-old boy?
Well, the CDC has a growth chart for boys on-line,
showing 5, 10, 25, 50, 75, 90, and 95 percentiles for both height and weight
plotted versus age (for males).
The 50th percentiles for a 12-year-old male are:
The 95th percentiles for a 12-year-old male are:
So Rice was well over the 95th percentile for height,
and way, way over the 95th percentile for weight.

In fact, those dimensions are quite common for men.

The point is, while Rice may have had the mind of a 12-year-old boy,
he had the body of someone at least 15, and quite possibly an adult.
And all the arriving officer had to go by in making his decision
was the size and the actions of the male he had been called about,
not his age.
He had no way of knowing that.

So I really question why the media, and many activists,
make such a big deal over Rice’s age.
For an example of such, see the story below:

Lessons of Tamir Rice’s death
[That is the headline for the story on page A17 of the WP print edition.]
by James Downie
James Downie is The Post’s digital opinions editor. [Any relation to Leonard Downie, Jr.?]
Washington Post Forum, 2016-01-01

“On November 22, 2014, at 3:30 p.m., Tamir Rice, age 12, was shot and killed at Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio by on-duty Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) Officer Timothy Loehmann.”
Thus begins Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s report on Rice’s death.
This week, a grand jury decided not to charge the rookie Cleveland police officer.
It was a perversely fitting end to a year of law-enforcement controversies.

The Tamir Rice case was rife with errors from the start, all compounded by race.
The 911 caller told the dispatcher that Rice was “probably a juvenile”
and that the gun he was seen brandishing was likely fake,
yet the dispatcher didn’t pass on that seemingly crucial information.
Loehmann and his partner estimated Rice’s age as at least 18 —
not surprising, given that studies have shown that
police officers often perceive black youths as older (and less innocent) than they are.
Though Loehmann has said that
he told Rice to “show me your hands” multiple times before shooting,
surveillance footage shows that fewer than two seconds passed
from when the police car reached Rice until Loehmann opened fire.


[Well, I am certainly in no position to judge
whether Officer Loehmann was justified in his action.
But as to the estimate of Rice’s age,
the CDC growth chart shows the 50th percentiles for an 18-year-old male to be:
So relative to the average 18-year-old,
Rice was two inches shorter, but 50 pounds heavier.
So that estimate of "age at least 18" doesn't look too bad to me.
And by the way, a news story I read said that
Rice was wearing a man’s XL jacket.
So again, there seems no way for those officers to have known that
they were dealing with a 12-year-old.
To the extent that anger in both the media and among activists is caused by
the thought that police officers are not giving due weight to the age of people they encounter,
it only seems fair to ask:
“How could they have known?”
for people well outside the normal, per-age, size range.]