4 min read

6 Years and a Poor Video Excuse Later

No justice for Tamir Rice
6 Years and a Poor Video Excuse Later

No justice for Tamir Rice

Photo by: Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

6 Years and a poor video excuse later, no justice for Tamir Rice

Six years ago on November 22, 2014 12-year old Tamir Rice was shot by police officer Timothy Loehmann in broad daylight and was dead by the next morning.

Samaria Rice is right, no mother should find out that her child has been killed by police officers for playing with a plastic toy.

Everything that took place that day was wrong, from the 911 phone call, to the firing on an innocent boy, to a mother being threatened with being put into the back of a police car for being distraught and distressed after seeing her son shot and her other children surrounded by police officers.

One call changed everything and now one little boy will never grow up and his family will never receive justice for his death.

What exactly happened that day and why has the Justice Department closed the case of Tamir Rice?

Tamir Rice, who loved playing soccer and basketball, was playing with an airsoft gun at the Cudell Recreation Center, a park in the city of Cleveland’s Public Works Department. Rice’s gun was missing the bright orange-tipped barrel required by Federal Law for all toy guns imported to the United States. Made to look like a real gun, and without the orange tip, it could be easily mistaken for a real gun.

A 911 call came in about a person who appeared to be taking a gun in and out of his pants pointing it at people. From the tone of voice, the caller is not in distress, but annoyed. The caller also points out that the person in question is “probably a juvenile” and that the gun was “probably fake” but was “scaring…people.” But the key words “juvenile” and “fake” never made it to the officers. It’s unclear if those pertinent pieces of information made it from the 911 call center to the dispatch. If they had, would it have made a difference?

Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback arrive to the scene. Within two seconds Tamir was shot.

Two seconds.

Let that sink in.

Two seconds and his family’s life is irrevocably changed.

Officer Loehmann consistently states that he asked the Black pre-teen to show his hands before shooting. It is unclear from the available video were Rice put his hands. And two seconds later shots were fired by Officer Loehmann.

I taught middle school. I’ve worked with middle school boys and girls. Their prefrontal cortex is still developing. They lack impulse control and don’t respond right away to demands.

In the heat of the moment, Rice was probably surprised and confused by the police officer.

Reading the scene between Tamir Rice and Officer Loehmann is a case of a surprised adolescent boy trying to follow directions and an officer, described as unfit for duty, being dispatched to the scene.

When talking about race and police brutality a friend of mine shared that she told her Black son that if his words aren’t “Yes Offcer” and immediately following directions with his hands visible, officers won’t take time to hear that his daddy is a fellow officer. They’ll shoot first, ask questions later.

Before working with the Cleveland Police department, Officer Loehmann was training with the Independence Police department where his supervisor’s recommenced that he quit before being fired.

His supervisor Deputy Chief Jim Polak wrote in a November 29, 2012 letter that Loehmann, “…could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thought nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal.”

Polak also reveals that he did not “…believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment.”

Polak did not believe, “…time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.”

Loehmann parted ways with the Independence Police Department and lied on his application to the Cleveland Police Department, thereby brewing up the perfect storm of impulsivity, lack of maturity, and inability to communicate clear directions which lead to the untimely death of 12 year old Tamir Rice.

Despite all of this, the Justice Department declared on Tuesday that federal charges would not be brought against Timothy Loehmann due to insufficient video evidence. The video in question was too grainy, had no audio, was obstructed by a police car, and was of too poor quality to see what happened clearly. A poor excuse for not serving up justice for Tamir Rice.

While the Justice Department does not condone the officer’s actions, there was simply not enough evidence to bring forth federal charges, thereby ultimately closing the case on the officer involved shooting of Tamir Rice.

Why has the system failed to serve up justice for Tamir Rice while his killer was almost rehired as a police officer in another Ohio district in the village of Bellaire in 2018? Loehmann ultimately removed his application after public outrage.

Why is it that a police chief is willing to overlook the death of a young boy to hire his killer? The police chief explained that Loehmann wasn’t fired from the Cleveland Police Department for killing Tamir Rice, but for failing to be truthful on his application. If Loehmann is willing to lie on his application and apply to several police departments, what else is he unwilling to disclose to potential employers? And who will become his next victim?

According to research presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, authors Frank Edwards, Hedwig Lee, and Michael Esposito share that “Black women and men…are significantly more likely than white women and men to be killed by police.”

More specifically, “Black men are 2.5 times more likely than White men to be killed by police officers their lifetime.”

Tamir Rice is more than a statistic. He was a 12 year old adolescent boy who loved his family. He was a playful jokester who loved his mother. He liked arts and crafts. He would have been 18 years old this year and graduated from high school. His death was senseless.

Let his death serve as a reminder that big changes are needed in police training and in the hiring of officers.

Samaria Rice shares with a video on Good Morning America that she still has “a lot of confusion about why this has happened. But at the end of the day, God is using me in a way that’s much bigger than all of us.

Tamir Rice. Say his name: Tamir Rice.