After Tamir Rice’s Killer Walks Free, Care2 Petition Calls for Investigation

On November 22, 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was playing outside a recreation center in Cleveland, Ohio. For much of the day, he and his friends were seen playing with a toy gun Tamir had borrowed from a friend. A little before 3:15 p.m., a man waiting for a bus saw Tamir still playing with the gun. When he called 911 he told the operator that there was a guy with a gun that “was probably fake” but that it was “scaring the shit” out of him. Throughout the conversation, the caller gave the dispatcher other details, including that Tamir was on the swing and that he was “probably a juvenile.”

When the dispatcher relayed the call to officers to respond at 3:24 p.m., she noted it was a high priority call and that there were reports of a man with a gun aiming his gun at people. She did not relay that the caller cautioned that the gun might be fake and the person was a juvenile. Two officers pulled up to the recreation center where they saw Tamir on the swing at 3:30 p.m. Less than two seconds later, Tamir was shot and died from his wounds a few hours later.

On Monday, three days after the second Christmas Tamir’s family spent without him, a grand jury failed to indict the officers of any wrongdoing. For those following the case, including Tamir’s family, the decision to not bring charges was heartbreaking but expected. The investigation into the high profile shooting took more than a year, even after video surveillance revealed contradictions in the officers’ statements, including that the car was still moving when Officer Timothy Loehmann stepped out of the car and immediately shot Tamir without warning. There have been several expert reports released by the prosecutor over the past several weeks, which he claimed was part of an effort to be transparent during the confidential proceeding. The reports focused on the reasonableness of the force used by Officer Loehmann. All of the experts said the shooting of a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun was justified.

On Monday, county prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty admitted that he had recommended no indictment to the grand jury, which had been hearing evidence for two months. He admitted that the evidence showed a “perfect storm of human error,” including the officers failing to provide first aid to a bleeding Tamir who was still alive and able to communicate. Yet, he noted, the law errs on the side of the officer who must make decisions in a split second, which in this case literally was.

Attention to the case has been amplified since Tamir Rice was black and the officer was white. Reports talk about how the officers responding, including an FBI agent, all believed Tamir was an adult even though his 14-year-old sister, who was hysterical and handcuffed in the back of a police vehicle, was yelling that he was only twelve. This is a common theme with black children, with studies showing that beginning as young as 10-years-old, black children are perceived much older than their years. When the officer called in the shooting, he described Tamir as a 20-year-old male.

The idea of this shooting being reasonable, even if classified so by law, is more than questionable for most who are not with law enforcement. The police report noted that the gun was an authentic looking replica and was missing the orange tip that would have identified it as a toy. Critics say even if that was so, Ohio is an open carry state and point to incidences where white men are free to walk around with guns, even when others find it threatening. They also point out that officers consistently engage white people with guns and generally try to deescalate the situation before using force. In spite of the officers’ initial statements, Tamir was given no such courtesy.

Tamir’s family was notified of the grand jury’s decision by the prosecutor before he held his press conference. After his announcement, the family released a statement through their attorney stating they were saddened and disappointed but not surprised, as they had previously asked for McGinty to be removed and a special prosecutor to be appointed. In their statement they noted, “It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment.”

The family has already filed a civil lawsuit against the city and has asked the Department of Justice to do their own investigation, which has already begun. A DOJ spokesperson said on Monday that it will continue its investigation despite the grand jury’s decision. Like many others, Care2 member and Episcopal seminarian Nathan Empsall feels that justice has not been served and has started a Care2 petition to stand with Tamir Rice’s family. If you, too, would like to tell the DOJ you want Tamir’s killer to be held accountable, please join Nathan by signing the petition and show Tamir Rice’s family you stand with them in this time of immeasurable sorrow.

Image credit: Facebook

87 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Julia Cabrera-Woscek

This is unfortunate and sad.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

The cops could not have known that his gun was a pellet gun and not a "real" gun because it looked exactly like one. If the boy had obeyed the cops and put the gun down, he would still be alive. His parent should have taught him to have more respect for authority.

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Jennifer Manzi
Jennifer Manzi2 years ago

Where are the cops protesting that civilians obey their orders to avoid tragedy? Thankfully busy protecting the community from these idiots with no jobs.

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Brett Cloud
Brett Cloud2 years ago

Tyfs.

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Brett Cloud
Brett Cloud2 years ago

First mistake is that the dispatcher didn't give the FULL message.
Second mistake is from the cops going full bore, thinking a 12 year-old is a 20 year old. I hope no cops are moonlighting as bouncers! There would be a LOT of underage kids in those clubs! (Just an aside, have classes in reading a person's age!) Third mistake, the cops didn't do first aid on the kid. Did they call for an ambulance in a timely way?

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Carl Nielsen
Carl Nielsen2 years ago

Those pellet guns ARE NOT TOYS. Here they can legally only be bought by adults, used by adults and only used in closed off areas.
Despite this they are still the most common cause for severe eye trauma in boys.
Worst case scenario is that the victim get gangrene in the eye and dies.
So far luckily noone have died, but doctors have had to tell parents that they didnt know whether the child would survive or not. Instances of brain dammage have occured.

Definitely NOT toys.

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Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

Petition signed! However, companies that manufacture realistic-looking toy guns must stop doing so!!! Tamir Rice would still have been alive if he hadn't had access to such a "toy!!" Thanks for posting.

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Rose Becke
Rose Becke2 years ago

Signed With little hope

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Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

What else should one expect when a toy gun looks exactly like a REAL gun!!!

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