Innocent child fatally shot by police in local park
from various sources – October 2017
submitted by – Rebecca Snook
Updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item
12 year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a police officer whilst playing in a local park in Cleveland, Ohio. On the 22 November 2014 police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback were dispatched to reports of a man pointing a firearm at members of the public at Cudell Recreation Center.
It has since transpired that during the call to the police dispatcher the caller reported that the gun was ‘probably a fake’ and indicated that Tamir was a child. This vital information was not passed on to officer Loehmann who fired the fatal shots or his fellow officer Garmback.
When the officers arrived at the park, Tamir picked his pellet gun off the table he was sat at and placed it in his waistband. Without any warning officer Loehmann fired two shots at Tamir, one of which hit him in the torso.
Garmback quickly requested emergency assistance reporting the shooting but neither officer who were both trained in first aid provided Tamir with immediate resuscitation. It took 4 minutes for a trained FBI agent to arrive at the scene and administer first aid. Whilst the FBI agent administered first aid Tamir was responsive and repeatedly mumbled “it was a pellet gun.”
As Tamir received treatment his sister, Samaria ran to the scene after hearing reports of her brothers shooting. She was told to calm down by the officers and was then physically restrained and placed in the back of a police car. It took a further three minutes for trained paramedics to reach the scene and transport Tamir to the Metrohealth Medical Center. Tamir died on the 23 November 2014, his cause of death was recorded as a gunshot wound to the torso.
Michael Petty, Tamir’s uncle released a statement at his funeral vowing to fight for justice. He criticized Loehmann stating that he was an inexperienced officer that had reacted too quickly. “Police officers are public servants — not James Bond with a license to kill.”
Tamir’s death sparked public outcry amongst the African-American community who subsequently demonstrated against police brutality and institutionalised racism. Tamir’s death has been credited as an instrumental case in the Black Lives Matter movement.
In 2015 the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the death of Tamir. Inconsistencies in the officers’ accounts of the shooting started to materialise. Loehmann testified to a Grand Jury that he shouted at Tamir from the car and asked him three times to show his hands. Loehmann explained that he had believed the pellet gun was a loaded firearm and thought that Garmback and he were in immediate danger.
Witnesses to the incident testified that they did not hear Loehmann issue any warning. Reports suggested that the police car rolled to a stop and Loehmann fired the shots a matter of seconds later. The timing of the shooting made it virtually impossible for an exchange between the officers and Tamir to have taken place.
Despite inconsistencies in the officers and witnesses accounts in 2016 prosecutors determined that the incident was a ‘perfect storm of human error’ and did not bring criminal charges against Loehmann, Garmback or the police dispatcher. Tamir’s family released a statement in response to this ruling stating that “In a time in which non-indictment for police officers who have killed an unarmed black child is business as usual, we mourn for Tamir and for all of the black people who have been killed by the police without justice. In our view, this process demonstrates that race is still an extremely troubling and serious problem in our country and the criminal-justice system.”
Following the prosecution’s decision not to indict any of the officers involved, Tamir’s family decided to release a video of his shooting. They hoped that the video would clear up any ambiguity between the conflicting accounts or Tamir’s death ultimately resulting in accountability from the police department. The family’s lawyer Subodh Chandra released a statement imploring the public to watch the video and judge for themselves stating; “the physically impossible accounts and inconsistencies the officers offer in their video-recorded interviews raise the stakes for this last chance at public accountability through the absurdly delayed discipline process.”
The City of Cleveland finally sought internal disciplinary action against the officers involved. The call dispatcher who failed to disclose that the gun may have been a fake or that Tamir was in fact a child was suspended for eight days. Garmback was suspended for ten days for his role in Tamir’s death. Loehmann was dismissed but the Cleveland Director of Public Safety Michael McGrath confirmed that it was due to inaccuracies on his job application and not a direct result of the shooting. Loehmann had failed to disclose that his previous police department allowed him to resign in 2012 when his probation came to an end rather than being fired as he was emotionally unstable.
After failing to hold the officers accountable on criminal charges or through internal disciplinary action, Tamir’s family launched a wrongful death suit against Loehmann, Garmback and the City of Cleveland. In April 2016, Tamir’s family were awarded a £4.7m settlement before and instead of taking the case to trial. The family released a statement saying; “although historic in financial terms, no amount of money can adequately compensate for the loss of a life.”
They continue to campaign for cases where the police have used excessive force primarily against young African-American males.
Tamir Rice shooting: No charges for officers
29 December 2015