The tragic story of Tamir Rice is back in the news. In case you don’t remember, Tamir Rice was the twelve-year-old boy who was gunned by a Cleveland Police Officer while playing with a pellet gun in a park by his house. Video of the tragic murder confirmed that he was gunned down within two seconds of the officer pulling up in his squad car.
Last week the city of Cleveland responded to a lawsuit filed by the family of Tamir Rice with approximately twenty defenses. The most preposterous of the defenses you have to read to believe.
The city, in its response, wrote that Tamir’s death on Nov. 22 and all of the injuries his family claims in the suit “were directly and proximately caused by their own acts, not this Defendant.” It also says that the 12-year-old’s shooting death was caused “by the failure … to exercise due care to avoid injury.”
The response does not explain these defenses in more detail, though 20 defenses are listed in all, including another one that says Tamir died because of “the conduct of individuals or entities other than Defendant.”
The city also wrote that it does not have enough information to respond in full because the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into Rice’s death by police officer Timothy Loehmann is not finished.
The Sheriff’s Office has not given a timeline on completing its investigation into Tamir’s death and turning the case over to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s Office. A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office did not return messages left Friday.
The city of Cleveland is getting crushed in the media for this and they deserve every bit of the scorn they receive. Unfortunately, the city’s defense of police actions leading to Tamir Rice’s death might have been surpassed on the insensitivity scale by Cleveland’s Police Patrolman’s Association.
In comments last week, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association Steve Loomis, attempted to further defend officer Loehmann’s actions, but he ended up making himself and the entire Cleveland police force look like a bunch of barbarians.
Loomis blamed Tamir Rice’s physical appearance for his death. Last week, Loomis told Politico, “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 twelve-year-old in an adult body.”
The responses from the city of Cleveland and the Police Patrolman’s Association were so abhorrent that Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson actually had to apologize for the language used by the city in defense of the lawsuit. During a news conference Monday on Fox 8 Jackson said, “This is not the character or personality of the city of Cleveland to be that insensitive to the family or even the victim.”
The mayor is dead wrong. The response by the city to Tamir Rice’s family has nothing to do with poor character or personality. The city employees are doing their best to protect and legitimize a broken police system that thrives on coercion and illegitimate use of force.
What kind of world do we live in, where scores of people run to the defense of a police officer who killed a twelve-year-old boy? An incident like this should lead to a complete investigation of the police department and all training exercises. Instead, bureaucrats cling to a system that continually results in innocent blood being spilled in the streets. They cling to the system, because it’s all they know.
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