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Friday, August 5, 2022

The Tamir E. Rice Police-Involved Shooting Case

     On Saturday November 22, 2014, a 911 dispatcher in Cleveland Ohio received a call from a person at the Cudell Recreation Center on the city's west side. According to the emergency caller, a boy on a swing set was scaring people by pulling a handgun out of waistband and pointing it at other people at the playground. The 911 caller added that the gun was probably a fake.

     Two Cleveland police officers responded to the call. When the officers arrived at the playground they saw what looked like a semi-automatic handgun lying on a bench. The boy in question, 12-year-old Tamir E. Rice, walked over to the bench, picked up the gun and stuck it into his waistband.

     The police officers pulled their weapons and ordered the boy to raise his hands. Instead of complying with the command, Tamir Rice reached for the gun. One of the officers fired two shots. A bullet pierced the boy's abdomen.

     Paramedics rushed Tamir Rice to MetroHealth Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. The next day he died.

     As it turned out, the pistol in the boy's possession was a pellet gun that did not have the orange safety tip attached to the muzzle to distinguish it from its real counterpart. The Airsoft replica gun fired plastic pellets.

     The two police officers, one a first-year rookie named Timothy Loehmann and the other a ten-year veteran, were placed on administrative leave. In advance of a full internal investigation it appeared that the boy had not pointed the gun at the officers and had not threatened them verbally. Investigators gathered surveillance video footage and interviewed witnesses. The detectives who looked into the shooting determined that the rookie officer had fired the fatal shot.

     The results of the internal investigation were submitted to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office.

     The president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association told reporters that the officers had not been told that the gun was probably a replica.

     On October 11, 2015 the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office released two reports on the Tamir Rice shooting by retired FBI agent Kimberley Crawford and Denver Chief Deputy District Attorney Lamar Sims. The use of force experts commissioned by Cuyahoga County concluded that patrolman Loehmann had exercised a reasonable use of force because the officer had reason to perceive Tamir Rice as a serious threat. The 911 dispatcher had described the boy as a man waving and pointing a gun.

     Member of the Rice family voiced their disapproval of the independent police-involved shooting report.

     A Cuyahoga County grand jury determined that criminal charges against Timothy Loehmann were not appropriate.

     In May 2017, Timothy Loehmann was terminated. He wasn't fired, however, for the shooting. In the course of the investigation into  the Tamir Rice case it came to light that Mr. Loehmann had lied on his 2013 employment application.
     On December 29, 2020 the U.S. Department of justice closed its civil rights investigation into the shooting without bringing federal charges against the officers.

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