The US city of Cleveland is arguing in court that Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy who was carrying a pellet gun when he was shot dead by a police officer near a recreation centre, should be held responsible for his own death.

In court documents, authorities blamed Rice's fatal injuries and the subsequent complaints for damages on the boy's own actions, saying he failed "to exercise due care to avoid injury".

That was among 20 defences in Cleveland's response to a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the victim's family.

The city also says it did not violate Rice's federal rights and is entitled to certain legal immunities.

An officer responding to a call about someone with a firearm shot the boy on November 22.

The family's complaint alleges excessive force, negligence and failure by police to immediately provide first aid.

Source: Agencies