Cleveland: Tamir Rice to Blame for His Own Death

By Sheryl Estrada


Update: March 3, 2015 at 9:07 a.m. EST

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jacksonapologized on Mondayfor the choice of language the city used in court fillings stating Tamir Rice’s actions caused hisdeath.

“In an attempt to protect all of our defenses we used words and we phrased things in such a way that was very insensitive, very insensitive to the tragedy in general, the family and the victim in particular,” Jackson said. “So we are apologizing today as the City of Cleveland to the family of Tamir Rice and to the citizens of the city of Cleveland for our poor use of words and our insensitivity in the use of those words.”

Our original post continues:

According to the City of Cleveland, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, shot and killed by Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann on Nov. 22, caused his own death.

In a court document filed on Feb. 27, which was a formal response to a federal lawsuit by the Rice family, the City of Cleveland offers 20 defenses, one of which states that the family’s “injuries, losses and damages … were directly and proximately caused by the acts of the Plaintiff’s decedent (Rice), not this Defendant.”

The city added that Rice failed to “exercise due care to avoid injury.”

One of the Rice family’s attorneys, Walter Madison, told The Washington Post that the city’s response was further evidence of police arrogance.

“What they said is incredulous at best. It’s unbelievable,” Madison said. “There are a number of things that we in society don’t allow 12-year-olds to do. We don’t allow them to vote, we don’t allow them to drink. In court we don’t try them as adults. They don’t have the capacity to understand the consequences of their actions.”

Last week, in a piece in Politico Magazine, Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, also put all the blame on Rice:

Tamir Rice is in the wrong. He’s menacing. He’s 5-feet-7, 191 pounds. He wasn’t that little kid you’re seeing in pictures. He’s a 12-year-old in an adult body. Tamir looks to his left and sees a police car. He puts his gun in his waistband. Those people99 percent of the time those people run away from us. We don’t want him running into the rec center. That could be a whole other set of really bad events. They’re trying to flush him into the field. Frank [the driver] is expecting the kid to run. The circumstances are so fluid and unique.

“The guy with the gun is not running. He’s walking toward us. He’s squaring off with Cleveland police and he has a gun. Loehmann is thinking, ‘Oh my God, he’s pulling it out of his waistband.'”

The day of the shooting, a local man called 911 and said he saw a Black male waving a gun, which was actually a realistic-looking toy pellet gun, in a Cleveland playground.

“There’s a guy in there with a pistol, you know, it’s probably fake, but he’s like pointing it at everybody,” the caller said.

It is not clear if the 911 dispatcher indicated Rice’s age or that the gun might not be real.

At approximately 3:30 p.m., within seconds of arriving on the scene, Loehmann shot Rice in the stomach. He died the next morning at MetroHealth Medical Center, shortly before 1 a.m.

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson, who released theautopsy report, classified Rice’s death as a homicide under the definition that Rice did not die from natural causes or accidentally; he was killed by the police officer’s bullets.

Video of the incident shows that Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, waited nearly four minutes to offer first aidto Rice, and during that time tackled his sister, Tajai Rice, who ran to his aid.

There have been questions raised as to whether Loehmann was fit for duty. He resigned and joined the City of Cleveland Division of Police in March 2014, after being told the suburban Independence Police Department was preparing to fire him.

InIPD records obtained by CNN, Deputy Chief Jim Polak described an incident at a state range-qualification course in which Loehmann “was distracted and weepy. He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal.”

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