There are some interesting tidbits of information that have come out of the recently released Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department investigation into the police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
The first interesting factoid is that after nearly seven months of investigating, the prosecutor’s office still has not charged Cleveland officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann in the murder of Rice. However, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said in a press release that the reason his office decided to release the report over the weekend was because “Transparency (i.e. the actual facts) is essential for an intelligent discussion of the important issues raised by this case.”
It should also be noted that the report comes just a few days after local Cleveland-area civil rights leaders filed a motion in court asking a judge to sign an arrest warrant for the two officers involved in the shooting. According to published reports, the leaders are hoping to use a little-known and rarely used Ohio statute that would allow them to circumvent the local prosecutor’s office. Therefore, it is entirely possible that the release of this report is an attempt by the prosecutor’s office to show that it has been doing its job. Still, the report presents more questions than it does answers.
If you recall, Rice was shot outside of the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland on November 22, 2014 after an anonymous call into 911 reported that there was a man with a gun. As it turned out, the gun was an airsoft toy and the man was actually a 12-year-old kid. However, that did not stop Officer Loehmann from shooting Rice only two seconds after arriving on the scene. Rice would die the next day from his injuries.
While the report gives no hint as to whether or not the prosecutor’s office will charge the officers (published reports say that it will be taken to the grand jury and await their final verdict), it does raise questions about Officer Loehmann’s previous statements. He claimed that he gave a warning shot and told Rice to raise his hands before delivering firing on the boy. According to one witness statement in the report who lived near the Crudell Rec Center and was outside at the time of the shooting, the unidentified witness heard two gunshots before she heard someone yell “Freeze…show me your hands!” Then she heard a third and final shot.
The report also gives insight into the unidentified 911 caller who was responsible for calling the cops to the scene. According to the report, the tipster is an unemployed man on Social Security Disability who wears a hearing aid and was visiting the neighborhood in which Rice was killed. As stated in the report, the 911 caller was waiting for the bus and drinking beer at the recreation center when he saw Rice playing with the toy gun. Although Rice had not approached or said a threatening word to him, the unidentified caller said that he felt compelled to call the police because he had been a victim of a previous assault in 2012. Because of this, he became frightened by these actions and refused to make eye contact with this male fearing that he would approach him.
As no surprise to many, most of the investigation has centered on unearthing details about Rice’s background. That includes including cell phone and school records, Facebook profiles and interviewing neighbors, friends and even his special education program teacher. In spite of the prodding, most of the interviews revealed that Rice was just a normal kid who was quiet and got into very little trouble. According to both his special education teacher as well as staff at the Crudell rec center where Rice and his sister were known to hang out, he was picked on a lot by the other kids for his clothing (he was known to wear the same thing every day), he never got into fights and would opt to play in the recreation center’s game room all day.
You can read the report for yourself. It should also be noted that both officer Garmback and Loehmann declined to be interviewed for the investigation based on the advice of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association. Also declining participation in the inquiry is Rice’s mother, Samaria.
In spite of all of the digging into Rice’s background, no part of the report makes mention of any of the backgrounds of the officers. There is no scrutiny of social media profiles, no witness statements from neighbors and family and friends offering insight into the character of the officers. Not even a single employee review statement about their overall job performance. With the lack of investigation into their backgrounds, it is unclear how any of what is presented in this report helps to find out why the cops decided to shoot Rice only two seconds upon meeting him.
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