The dispatcher who took the 911 call regarding Tamir Rice has been suspended for eight days.
According to a disciplinary letter dated March 10, Police Chief Calvin Williams found that Constance Hollinger “engaged in improper conduct and/or procedure.”
In November 2014 Hollinger received the call, in which the caller said several times the gun Rice was holding was “probably fake.” When Hollinger called Beth Mandi, another dispatcher, she did not relay the fact that the caller said the gun was “probably fake.” Mandi therefore never passed this information to Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garnback, the responding officers who believed Rice was holding a real gun. Upon his arrival, Loehmann (who was still a probationary officer at the time) exited the police cruiser and shot Rice to death within two seconds of arriving on the scene. Neither Loehmann nor Garnback attempted to give Rice medical aid for several minutes. Rice’s gun was later discovered to be a pellet gun. The 12-year-old died at the hospital.
Samaria Rice, Rice’s mother, called the disciplinary action “unacceptable,” her attorney, Subodh Chandra, reported.
“Eight days for gross negligence resulting in the death of a 12-year-old boy. How pathetic is that” Chandra questioned.
A grand jury declined to indict either officer involved in Rice’s killing, a decision the prosecutor admitted he agreed with. The announcement sparked protests as well as calls for the prosecutor’s resignation.
“Fat chance of this absurd discipline deterring anyone from anything other than continued incompetence and indifference,” he said. “That the dispatcher still has her job when a child is dead speaks volumes about accountability in Cleveland.”
“If this is the best that that system can offer, then the system is broken,” Chandra added.
During the 911 call Hollinger does not acknowledge the caller when he says the gun is likely fake on several occasions.
“There’s a guy in there with a pistol, you know, it’s probably fake, but he’s, like, pointing it at everybody,” the 911 caller says to Hollinger.
“It’s probably fake, but it’s scaring the sh*t out of people,” he repeats later.
“He’s sitting on the swing right now, but he keeps pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people. It’s probably a juvenile, you know” he adds.
“I don’t know if it’s real or not,” he says toward the end of the call, to which Hollinger responds that they would send a police cruiser to the location.
The caller was across the street from Cudell Park, where Rice was sitting, in a parking lot when he made the call.
According to Cleveland.com, this is not Hollinger’s first suspension for inappropriate conduct. “Hollinger was also disciplined in July 2016 for treating a 12-year-old girl who was reporting that she was sexually assaulted in a ‘rude and unprofessional manner.’ She was suspended without pay for five days in that case.”
“In a situation like this, there’s no such thing as closure or justice,” lawyers Johnathan Abady and Earl Ward said in a statement Monday. “Nothing will bring Tamir back. His unnecessary and premature death leaves a gaping hole for those who knew and loved him that can never be filled.”
Department of Public Safety Director Michael McGrath also suspended Patrol Officer William Cunningham for two days for working off-duty at the rec center on the day of the shooting. He was also charged with filing a false report regarding the shooting, but this charge was dismissed.
Last April Rice’s family was awarded $6 million in a wrongful death suit. According toCleveland.com, the federal lawsuit looked at more than just the actions of the police officers specifically and “called into question the actions of the dispatchers who first put out the call about a disturbance at Cudell.”