By Elaine Magliaro
Eric Helsig (Northeast Media Group) reported yesterday that the city of Cleveland had responded to a lawsuit filed by Tamir Rice’s family “with several defenses, including that the 12-year-old died and his family members suffered because of their own actions.” In its response, the city said that Rice’s shooting death by a Cleveland police officer last November and “all of the injuries his family claims in the suit ‘were directly and proximately caused by their own acts, not this Defendant.'” Helsig said that the city also claimed that the 12-year-old’s shooting death was caused “by the failure … to exercise due care to avoid injury.”
Helsig said the lawsuit, which was first filed last December, was amended in January after Tamir’s family hired new attorneys.
The new complaint filed by Akron attorney Walter Madison adds Tamir’s parents, Samaria Rice and Leonard Warner, and his sister Tajai as plaintiffs. The city of Cleveland and officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback are again named as defendants, as well as 100 unknown 911 operators, police officers and city employees.
Whereas the original complaint was spare, the new 71-page suit is sprawling. In addition to laying out their version of events on the day the 12-year-old was shot at Cudell Recreation Center, it makes references to the Department of Justice’s report released on Dec. 4, which found that Cleveland police engaged in a pattern of using excessive force against suspects.
Helsig added that the complaint also referenced reports of Officer Loehmann’s “questionable previous experience as a police officer in Independence and the police’s handling of the chase and shooting of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell in 2012.” In addition, the lawsuit “incorporates information that emerged about the day Tamir was shot that was not released when the first lawsuit was filed in early December.” Helsig said the suit goes into detail about the moments after the shooting when Tamir’s 14-year-old sister “was tackled and restrained as she ran towards her brother screaming ‘my baby brother, they killed my baby brother.'”
According to Helsig, the city’s response listed 20 defenses, which were not explained in detail–including one that said “Tamir died because of ‘the conduct of individuals or entities other than Defendant.'” Helsig added that the city wrote that it did not “have enough information to respond in full because the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into Rice’s death by police officer Timothy Loehmann is not finished.”
The Sheriff’s Office has not given a timeline on completing its investigation into Tamir’s death and turning the case over to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s Office. A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office did not return messages left Friday.
Amended lawsuit filed by Tamir Rice’s family in case against city of Cleveland (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
City decides Tamir Rice death caused by his own actions (Cleveland Sun Times)