By Chris Hoenig
Newly released surveillance video, which had not been made public before, shows that police officers waited nearly four minutes to offer first aid to dying Cleveland 12-year-old Tamir Rice after one of them shot him.
During that four-minute delay, officers tackled and handcuffed Rice’s sister, who ran over after hearing gunfire.
A local man called 911 after he saw Rice waving a realistic-looking toy pellet gun around a Cleveland playground on Nov. 22. Rice was shot by Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann within seconds of Loehmann’s arrival on the scene and immediately dropped to the ground.
The new video, obtained by Cleveland.com, shows the confrontation, about 15 seconds in, followed by Loehmann’s retreat behind the patrol car.
Less than 90 seconds later, around the 1:41 mark, Rice’s 14-year-old sister runs over. She is shoved to the ground by Loehmann’s partner, Frank Garmback, and the two officers handcuff her hands behind her back before placing her in the back of the patrol car parked next to her wounded brother.
All the while, Rice is still not receiving any first aid.
For nearly four minutes, police stand around—including one with his hands on his hips—while the boy bled out. An FBI agent who was in the neighborhood—not any of the Cleveland police officers—then arrives and is the first person to offer medical aid.
The shooting happened around 3:30 in the afternoon; Rice died shortly before 1 a.m. the next morning at MetroHealth Medical Center, according to Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson’s autopsy report. In his report, Gilson said that Rice was struck one time in the left side of his abdomen, with the bullet striking blood vessels before coming to rest in his pelvis, near his spine.
“This has to be the cruelest thing I’ve ever seen,” Walter Madison, the Akron-based attorney representing Rice’s family, said.
Rice’s family filed a federal civil-rights and wrongful-death lawsuit last month against Loehmann, Garmback and the city, alleging that the officers confronted the boy “in a surprise fashion and fired multiple shots at him without any adequate investigation.”
Loehmann had resigned from the Independence Police Department in suburban Cleveland when he found out that the department was preparing to fire him due to concerns about his mental competence as a police officer.
Independence Deputy Chief Jim Polak said that in one incident at a state range qualification course, Loehmann “was distracted and weepy. He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal.”
After blaming his attitude on a four-month-old breakup, Loehmann told his training officer that, “Maybe I should quit,” “I have no friends,” “I only hang out with 73-year-old priests.”
He also once left his firearm in his locker overnight without a lock, lied about skipping out on part of his orientation, and refused orders to wear his bulletproof vest.
“I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment,” Polak wrote in his final report. “I am recommending that he be released from the employment of the City of Independence. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”
Prosecutors are leaving it to a grand jury to determine whether there is evidence to support any criminal charges in Rice’s death.