Activist and Black Lives Matter leader Deray McKesson spoke at the Taft School Tuesday and offered students a version of the Tamir Rice shooting in which police waited an hour to render first aid, possibly leading to his death. In fact, an FBI agent on scene rendered first aid to Rice in under four minutes.
McKesson announced on Twitter that he would be speaking at the private boarding school and college in Connecticut:
I'm at the Taft School today in Watertown today. Great conversations with students.
— deray (@deray) October 6, 2015
“There’s this misconception that the protesters are anti-police, we’re not anti-police,” McKesson said during his 19 minute address. But no matter how many times he denies being anti-police, McKesson keeps repeating false claims in which the police appear to be heartless monsters and murderers. He did this again today when recounting the death of Tamir Rice:
You think about Tamir Rice. Tamir Rice was 12-years-old He got killed in Cleveland, he had a toy gun. And I don’t know if you’ve seen the video of Tamir Rice being killed but his sister…it’s across the street from this apartment complex…somebody knocks on the door and says they just killed your brother. And somebody has a cell phone recording of it. She runs to his body, like she is just sprinting to his body and these officers, like, they literally clothesline her and they like take her down. And then they put her in the cop car next to his body. So she just, like, sits their next to his body. And Tamir’s not dead yet so, when you look at it on the camera, Tamir Rice got shot, he didn’t die for another 16 hours. And like no officer administered any first aid. Like, literally, it’s like 20 officers they just watch Tamir die. His sister is in the car watching. And then the most heartbreaking part is his mother comes down, somebody finally gets to his mother. And his mother comes down and they say to her you have two choices. You either go with Tamir’s body in the ambulance or you wait with your daughter. And she’s like, I guess I’ll go with Tamir while her daughter sits in the back of the cop car next to where Tamir’s body was. And she travels with him to the hospital…and again, at that point, everybody thought Tamir was dead but he was not, you know, he was alive. And what we believe is that if he had gotten any type of first aid in that first hour, Tamir might have lived, but he didn’t.
McKesson leaves out a few important details which help explain what happened. First, the gun Rice had was an air soft gun with the colored tip removed, making it look from a distance like a real gun. The person who called police told the dispatcher he saw Rice pulling the gun out of his waistband and “scaring the shit out of people.” He added that he appeared to be a “juvenile” and that the gun was “probably fake” but said he “couldn’t tell if it was real or not.” Unfortunately, the dispatcher did not relay the caller’s doubts to officers sent to the scene. All they were told was that someone was “pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it at people.” That’s what led up up to the tragic shooting.
But it’s after the shooting takes place that McKesson gets most creative with his version of events. He says no one administered first aid and that 20 officers just watched Tamir die. He adds that if only Tamir had received first aid in the first hour, he might have lived. In fact, an FBI agent who was a trained paramedic responded to the scene and rendered first aid to Rice in under four minutes (you can watch the video for yourself and time it). The FBI agent knew Rice’s wound was severe and tried to keep him alive until he could get to a hospital for surgery. Cleveland paramedics arrive roughly 4 minutes later. Finally, Rice was put on a gurney and wheeled to an ambulance about 13 minutes after the shooting took place. He died early the next morning.
It’s certainly fair to ask why officers on scene failed to offer first aid for four minutes. The FBI agent who arrived described them as looking shell-shocked. Whatever the case, the real story is troubling enough, but McKesson takes this and turns it into a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie. A bunch of college kids who’ve been told he’s an expert on these incidents just heard a terrible lie about what happened to Tamir Rice.
It’s not the first time Deray McKesson has offered a version of events which differs from the facts (and which seems premised on the idea police are monsters). After the death of Sandra Bland, McKesson tweeted “#SandraBland was murdered by the Waller County PD & the only reason it wasn’t swept under the rug is Twitter.” He began retweeting people who were spreading a conspiracy theory that claimed Bland was already dead when her mug shot was taken. Even after the autopsy report was released, McKesson suggested it was part of a “cover up,” tweeting, “After being here in Waller County, I’m certain that they killed #SandraBland.”
McKesson can keep claiming he’s not anti-police, but when he accuses cops of murder and standing by watching a 12-year-old die without first aid, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion he’s not telling his audience the truth.