On this day in 2014, Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police in Cleveland, Ohio.
Rice, a 12-year-old African American boy was sitting in a Cleveland public park holding a pellet gun when Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback shot him.
The officers responded to a call placed to 911 that stated a man was pointing a gun at several people in the park. Unfortunately, the dispatcher failed to mention that the caller stated he believed it was a juvenile with a “fake” gun. As a result, the dispatcher was suspended for eight days.
The Rice family lawyer provided a video to NBC News, showing Officer Loehmann, who was still in training at the time, stated that he yelled at Rice from about 30 yards away from the boy while shouting at him to “freeze” and “put his hands in the air.”
However, this verbal statement contradicted a written statement that Loehmann had previously given the grand jury. In this statement, the officer-in-training said that he didn’t start yelling at Rice until the car was close to him and stopped.
Attorney Subodh Chandra said in a statement, “Officer Loehmann claims in the video that he was hanging out of his door shouting commands, with the gun out as the car approached Tamir, whereas he told the grand jury in a prewritten statement he read that he opened the door at the end.”
Surveillance videos show Loehmann shooting 12-year-old Rice only seconds after the patrol car approached him.
“I had to make the decision fast because Frank and I were in immediate danger,” Loehmann said. “We were easy targets. Plus, I was stuck in the doorway, and my partner was still seated in the driver’s seat, so we were basically sitting ducks.”
Officer Frank Garmback, Loehmann’s partner, broke down several times during the interviews and testimonies.
“I didn’t know it was a kid,” he said emotionally. “I could see his eyes rolling to the back of his head. He’s barely breathing, and there’s no rescue squad. I didn’t know what else to do, there’s nothing else I could have done.”
A grand jury found that neither officer was criminally liable. However, both faced administrative charges, and Loehmann was accused of omitting information on his job application to the Cleveland Police Department.
The city of Cleveland settled the civil rights lawsuit with the Rice family for $6 million. Rice’s death sparked mass outrage and became one of the leading predictors to the Black Lives Matter movement.