Cleveland shooting
12-year-old Tamir Rice who was shot dead by Cleveland police.Screen grab from BBC

The killing of Tamir Rice could have been avoided, the boy's family said after Cleveland police released a video that shows police shooting the 12-year-old within two seconds of arriving at the location.

A look at the video and at other facts that have emerged since the fatal shooting raises several questions, all pointing to whether the shooting could have been avoided, and whether Rice will get justice.

The Cleveland police department released to the public a video with surveillance footage of the moments that led to Rice's shooting.

The footage shows Rice brandishing what was later found to be an airsoft gun, which he pointed at different passersby and fiddled with for more than 10 minutes.

A passerby in the vicinity had at the time called 911 to report about a boy with a 'probably fake' gun.

Rice is finally seen entering a gazebo where he sits for a while, until a police car is seen pulling up right in front of the gazebo. In the grainy footage, two police officers immediately get out of the car pointing their guns at Rice, who is hidden from view behind the car.

The police said he was shot dead in under two seconds. 

Why was the 911 caller asked if Rice was Black or White?

According to an audio released by the Cleveland police of the caller who called 911 to inform them about Rice, which you can listen to here, the woman who answered the call is heard asking if the boy is 'black or white'. When the caller does not immideately respond to the question, the woman repeats it twice again, till the man tells her the boy is black. 

It is not clear if the question falls under protocol, but given that racial profiling by policemen in the US has already raised heckles with the Ferguson shooting incident, the issue assumes more serious overtones. 

Did the police know that the 911 caller had doubted whether Rice's gun was real?

According to an audio released by the Cleveland police the 911 caller had said that the gun was "probably fake".

"I am sitting in a park. There is a guy with a pistol...The guy keeps pulling it out.. It's probably fake ...He's sitting on the swing right now, but he keeps pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people. Probably a juvenile, you know? ... I don't know if it's real or not, you know?" the caller is heard saying in the audio.

The two officers, who rushed to the spot following the call, had reportedly not been informed that the caller had said the gun could be a fake one, Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, had told the Associated Press.

Why did the officers pull up so close if they thought the boy had a real gun?

The Cleveland police are yet to answer the question.

"That's a legitimate question", Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said at a press conference, adding that it was being investigated, Reuters reported. 

Did the Officers Act Rashly?

According to the video footage, one of the police officers fired at Rice within two seconds of getting out of the car.

There is no audio to the footage, but the officers claim that they had warned Rice thrice to raise his arms, but he instead reached for his waistband where he had kept his BB gun.

However, given that officials admitted that the police shot the boy in under two seconds of arriving on the scene, it is not clear how and when the instructions were given to Rice, which he reportedly disobeyed. 

Did the Police Check for the 'Orange Mark' on the BB gun?

Airsoft guns usually come with an orange marker to indicate that they are toy guns, but the marker was reportedly missing from Rice's gun.

According to reports, the police said that the gun was not distinguishable from regular and dangerous firearms.

However, given the split-second reaction by the police officer in shooting Rice, it is not clear if the police even looked for the distinguishing marker on the gun before they pulled the trigger.

Did the toy gun belong to Rice?

According to some family members, the gun was not Tamir's and that the family was 'raised not to play with guns'.

"Our family has been raised to not play with any guns. We as mothers don't buy our children guns, even water guns," Latonya Goldsby, 39, his first cousin once removed, was quoted saying by The Guardian.

She said the gun was given to Rice by a friend at the recreation centre outside which he was shot.

"I know for a fact it is not his."

Will the grand jury let the two policemen go scot-free like in the Wal-Mart shooting case?

Only three months ago, two Ohio cops had shot dead a 22-year-old man, who was holding a toy gun, at a Wal-Mart store. In September, a grand jury refrained from pressing charges against the officers, stating that they were "justified in their use of force".

John Crawford, the man who was shot at the Wal-Mart store, was also African-American, as Rice was.

Rice's death came a day before the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson for killing black teen Michael Brown, which led to massive rioting in St Louis County and around the United States.

While these recent decisions indicate that the police officers' action could be defended, the legal outcome of the Cleveland shooting is still to be seen.