Cleveland: Unarmed 12-Year-Old Responsible for His Own Death

The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot by the Cleveland Police Department in November, is up in arms after the City of Cleveland last week said in a court filing that the unarmed boy was responsible for his own death.

Share on Nextdoor

The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot by the Cleveland Police Department in November, is up in arms after the City of Cleveland last week said in a court filing that the unarmed boy was responsible for his own death.

The filing states that Rice’s death was caused by “failure to exercise … due care to avoid injury.” It also states that the incident was brought about by Rice and his family’s actions.  An attorney representing the Rice family lashed out at the city March 2, calling the city’s statements “incredulous at best” and “unbelievable” in an interview with the Washington Post. City officials quickly walked back the statements, which they acknowledged were insensitive.

“In an attempt to protect all of our defenses, we used words and we phrased things in such a way that was very insensitive,” Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson said at a news conference later that day. “Very insensitive to tragedy in general, the family and the victim in particular.”

Police shot Rice after a neighbor called 911 to report a boy on a playground with what appeared to be a toy pistol. A dispatcher failed to stipulate that the caller said the gun was “probably fake” when alerting officers to the situation. Two officers drove up into the playground toward the shelter where Rice was. One, Officer Timothy Loehman, jumped from the vehicle and shot Rice almost immediately.

The shooting came as the police shooting deaths of unarmed black citizens like Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and John Crawford III in Beavercreek focused national attention on issues around race and police use of force.

Two weeks after Rice’s death, the Justice Department released a two year-long study it conducted detailing excessive uses of force by Cleveland police.

The report stated that “the trust between the Cleveland Division of Police and many of the communities it serves is broken.” Despite these findings, Mayor Jackson and Chief of Police Calvin Williams,both maintain that reform efforts over the past few years have been fruitful. Both Jackson and Williams are black. The city’s police force is currently working with the DOJ on efforts to reform the department.

Meanwhile, the investigation into Rice’s death has been handed over to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s office.

Scroll to read more Cincinnati News articles

Newsletters

Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.