UPDATE in the Case of Tamir Rice: The City of Cleveland Claims That the Twelve-Year-Old’s Death Was Caused by His Own Actions

Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice

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.

Helsig:

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.”

Helsig:

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.

SOURCES

City of Cleveland responds to Tamir Rice lawsuit by saying boy’s death was caused because of his own actions (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

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)

This entry was posted in DOJ, Equal Rights, Justice, Law Enforcement, Local Government, Media, Racism, Society, United States and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to UPDATE in the Case of Tamir Rice: The City of Cleveland Claims That the Twelve-Year-Old’s Death Was Caused by His Own Actions

  1. michaelbeaton says:

    Wow.

  2. I was thinking of a different set of three letters.

    CYA

  3. Anonymously Yours says:

    When you have a cover up going on a good defense is an offense. Will the truth ever be known?

  4. orolee says:

    Gene, SOP?

  5. Yep. I suspect the liability issue forced the play, Oro.

  6. blouise says:

    The City will eventually lose this one too and the dumb schmuck who included the “newsworthy” comments in the City’s response such as ” the 12-year-old’s shooting death was caused ‘by the failure … to exercise due care to avoid injury.’ will still be making things worse on some other case. We have a plethora of idiots in City government and they tend to hire and or give contracts to those of like mind and intelligence.

  7. I’d bet a dollar that language came from someone in either the City Attorney’s Office or the Office of the Comptroller.

  8. Elaine M. says:

    A City of Two Tales
    The Justice Department says Cleveland is in crisis; the city’s black mayor and police chief say the opposite. Who’s right?
    By CONNIE SCHULTZ
    February 23, 2015
    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/tamir-rice-cleveland-police-115401_Page2.html#.VPIsUcY-DBJ

  9. blouise17 says:

    From the Connie Schultz article above and so on point it almost makes me cry:

    Loomis )Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association President) scoffed. “Racial tensions?” he said. “No. I don’t see it at all.”

    Two Saturdays ago, Loomis inadvertently illustrated a version of the problem he denied existed.
    Before 9 that morning, Loomis sent to my cellphone a police officer’s photograph of an elementary-age student’s drawing hanging on a school wall. In it, a white police officer is arresting a black man wearing a suit and fedora and sitting at a counter. Large dark letters on the bottom read, “Civil Disobedience.”

    “Connie, this is what we are up against,” Loomis wrote in a text. “While the skill of the grammar school artist is apparent the content is troubling. If our schools and teachers are accepting and in fact celebrating this message (by hanging it on the wall) how is anything going to change.

    Someone is teaching this kid to that feeling and acting like that is acceptable when it is not. The kids should be taught to respect elders and authority not defy it.”

    I pointed out that February is Black History Month and suggested the drawing might depict the lunch counter sit-ins in the South in the 1960s.

    He did not acknowledge that. “It’s amazing to watch 5 or 6 year old kids interact with each other in playgrounds and school settings,” he responded. “They have NO care about race, economic status (the brand name of their sneakers) or religion. They are ALL innocent and pure…It is not until us grown ups, media, apparently our teachers, and special interest groups poison the hearts and minds of these innocent angelic kids. The teachers and principal should be ashamed.”

    A few days later I tracked down the elementary school and spoke to the principal, Alisha Evans. I hadn’t even finished describing the picture before she knew which one it was.

    “Oh, my gosh,” she said. “It says ‘civil disobedience’ on it? Yes, that’s ours.”

    She sighed. “The man in the suit? In that picture? That’s Martin Luther King Jr.”

  10. Elaine M. says:

    blouise,

    The policeman who took the photograph of the child’s picture might have also been a tad clueless.The police had better watch out! The grade schoolers are after them!!!

  11. Elaine M. says:

    blouise,

    “If our schools and teachers are accepting and in fact celebrating this message (by hanging it on the wall) how is anything going to change.”

    And those bad, bad public school teachers. Imagine them teaching children about MLK and civil disobedience. Oh, the humanity!

  12. nivico says:

    Here’s a lovely picture of Rice pointing his gun at a child on the playground

    Granted, it later turned out to be a non-lethal pellet gun… but do we really want to send the message that police need to take a ‘wait n see’ approach in a situation where children are being threatened with what appears to be a real gun?

  13. Bone suckin sauce says:

    Pellet guns can kill small animAls and cause serious injury in humans. They are not toys.

  14. blouise says:

    Elaine,

    I thought about the policeman who sent the pic to Loomis too. And then,, that Loomis dismissed Schultz’s suggestion regarding Black History month. I wonder how Loomis is blaming the messenger this time.

    There’s a reason Connie Schultz wins Pulitzers.

  15. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2015/02/westwego_teen_arrested_after_p.html Eighteen year old white kid was booked for simple assault for pointing pellet gun at police. Tamir Rice must be the first 12 year old kid killed on a playground for having a pellet gun.

  16. Elaine M. says:

    Tennessee Man Demonstrates Open Carry Near School Wearing Rifle
    10/24/14
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/open-carry-activist-tennessee-school

    Excerpt:
    A Tennessee man on Wednesday caused panic as he paced back and forth near a high school in a bulletproof vest with a rifle strapped across his back and a GoPro camera, WSMV-TV reported.

    Multiple people called the police when they saw Leonard Embody with a gun near the school, but he was not arrested because he did not walk onto the school grounds. Open carry is legal in Tennessee.

    Embody has been arrested multiple times before for walking around with a gun, but the charges were dropped, according to WSMV.

    *****

    Rifles can kill small animals AND people. They are not toys. Do we really want to send the message that police need to take a ‘wait n see’ approach in a situation where children in a school are being frightened by a man with a REAL gun? Who knows…the man could be a nut job who has serious mental issues???

  17. Elaine M. says:

    Gun nuts’ tragic confusion: Why “open carry” groups don’t get police brutality
    http://www.salon.com/2014/10/01/gun_nuts_tragic_confusion_why_open_carry_groups_misunderstand_police_brutality/

    Excerpt:
    After finally being allowed to view the video of the police shooting of a man in an Ohio Wal-Mart, it’s very hard for any reasonable person to conclude that the authorities acted responsibly. They appear not to have given him any chance to drop the toy gun in his hand before shooting him. It’s possible that they were persuaded by the frightened 911 caller that they were entering a deadly situation, but there’s no evidence they heard anything but a description and location of a black man with an afro, wearing jeans and a T-shirt carrying a rifle and threatening people in Wal-Mart. An Ohio grand jury seems to have thought that it was reasonable for police in that situation to shoot first and ask questions later.

    If you didn’t know it was a toy gun, it’s easy to see why someone might be afraid. Any time you see people casually carrying guns around you know there’s the potential for a deadly accident or some kind of altercation resulting in death. But obviously, the answer to that problem is not for the police to simply shoot them down. In fact, Ohio is an open carry state, which means that it is perfectly legal to walk around Wal-Mart with a real AR-15 much less a toy they sell right there in the store.

    And open carry advocates stage demonstrations to “exercise” their right to wear firearms in public all the time. For example, in May a couple of men in Medina, Ohio, walked the streets with such guns slung casually over their backs. Police were called numerous times by people alarmed at the sight of two men carrying AR-15 rifles in the town square. (You can listen to the 911 calls here.) But interestingly, in this case the police didn’t deploy a SWAT team or rush in with guns drawn and start shooting…

  18. Elaine M. says:

    Watch What Happens When Police Confront a White ‘Open Carry’ Gun Nut
    Police show great patience with a possibly drunk, agitated, gun-waving white man. What if he were black?
    By Janet Allon / AlterNet
    September 5, 2014
    http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/watch-what-happens-when-police-confront-white-open-carry-gun-nut

    Excerpt:
    A perfect example of the double standard of law enforcement was videotaped in Kalamazoo, Michigan recently. A 63-year-old white man, clad in pajamas, was waving a large gun around, threatening people and understandably scaring the bejesus out of them. Several called the cops, who showed up in a cruiser and attempted to convince the man to “put the gun down,” so they could talk to him.

    He was having none of it, and though what he says cannot be heard on the video, it is clear he is making some sort of a statement about his rights to openly carry this weapon. The officer acknowledges his “open carry” rights, but says the man is not allowed to cross the street. That’s jaywalking. The man flips the bird to the police and toward the camera, makes masturbatory gestures, and keeps the assault rifle over his shoulder. He’s having none of it. The cops keep trying to talk some sense into him, and tell him he is “scaring people.” The man says, “shoot me.” The cops don’t.

  19. Elaine M. says:

    Texas Gun Nuts Are So Crazy Even The NRA’s Gun Nuts Hate Them
    http://gawker.com/texas-gun-nuts-are-so-crazy-even-the-nras-gun-nuts-hate-1584922036#

    Excerpt:
    The toughest thing about being a paranoid armed misogynist bully with a smug sense of self-satisfaction is, it’s hard to make friends. Even the gun lobby now hates the heroes of Texas Open Carry, having realized that it’s hurting the cause of universal free gun love with its guns.

    The National Rifle Association dumped a press statement last Friday trying to distance itself from the Lone Star State assault-weapon-totin’ hooyahs who have spat on wheelchair-ridden moms, scared the bejeezus out of customers at Chipotle, Chili’s and Sonic, cornered a Marine vet with their guns on the street on Memorial Day, and generally been self-important pricks—or, in the NRA’s patois, “bad neighbors”…

  20. bigfatmike says:

    “Granted, it later turned out to be a non-lethal pellet gun… but do we really want to send the message that police need to take a ‘wait n see’ approach in a situation where children are being threatened with what appears to be a real gun?”

    Doesn’t the reasonableness of LE action depend on the situation when police arrive and encounter the subject?

    The reports I read did not suggest the situation was anything like the picture when the police rolled up and started shooting.

    Baring direct imminent threat, Shouldn’t police always verify what was is actually happening before they start shooting? Shouldn’t police always try to establish communication and cooperation with the subject before they start shooting?

    Based on news reports, it is not clear to me there was any meaningful attempt to communicate with the subject. And the timing of arrival of LE and commencement of shooting suggest there was no time for the subject to comply.

    I have seen nothing to convince me this was not questionable, trigger happy LE misconduct.

  21. bettykath says:

    Photo looks like it was photoshopped. I saw no such image in the video where there was another person.

  22. blouise17 says:

    Elaine,

    I just got done watching a local news segment in which the Mayor of Cleveland apologized for the wording in the city’s response to the Rice law suit. Barbara Langhenry, the Law Director said that although she did not prepare the response, it came from her office and is her responsibility. She also apologized. The line which drew the most criticism was a standard legal line used regularly but inappropriate in this instance according to both the Mayor and Law Director … the 12-year-old’s shooting death was caused ‘by the failure … to exercise due care to avoid injury.’

    So far nothing from looneytunes Loomis, President of Cleveland’s cops’ union, regarding his claim that teachers and principals should be ashamed for displaying elementary school students’ pictures honoring MLK when those pictures show Dr King being arrested by a white cop. Loomis and his blue blood friends probably still haven’t figured it out.

  23. They’re probably perplexed as to why a 16th Century German friar was drawn as a black man.

  24. blouise17 says:

    Gene,

    LOL

  25. Thank you. 😀
    I’m rather proud of that one if I do say so myself.

  26. blouise17 says:

    Gene,

    Tex literally roared when I read it to him.

  27. Elaine M. says:

    blouise,

    I thought you’d appreciate this WaPo article written by Jonathan Capehart:

    It’s Tamir Rice’s fault
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/03/02/its-tamir-rices-fault/

    Excerpt:
    As if the November 2014 Cleveland police shooting of Tamir Rice wasn’t bad enough. The Post’s Wesley Lowery reports that the city of Cleveland is blaming the 12-year-old who was playing with a toy gun in a park near his home for his own death. In response to the federal lawsuit filed by Tamir’s family, city officials accuse Tamir of “failure…to exercise due care to avoid injury.”

    Right. It’s Tamir’s fault that the 911 caller’s admonition that the gun he was playing with was “probably fake” never made it to the officers.

    It’s Tamir’s fault that he was shot and killed by police officer Timothy Loehmann just “1½ to 2 seconds” after his car arrived on the scene.

    It’s Tamir’s fault that Loehmann quit his previous police job before he was dismissed for “deficiencies” only to be hired by a police department now under federal investigation for “allegations that CPD officers use excessive force, including unreasonable deadly force.”

    It’s Tamir’s fault that first aid was administered, not by Loehmann or his partner, but by an FBI agent who happened to be in the area — four minutes after Tamir was shot.

    And it’s Tamir’s fault that he was not seen as a child. “Shots fired, male down, um, black male, maybe 20,” one of the officers said when calling in the shooting. Or as Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association president Steve Loomis told Politico magazine, “He’s menacing. He’s 5-feet-7, 191 pounds. He wasn’t that little kid you’re seeing in pictures. He’s a 12-year-old in an adult body.” Given everything we know now about his case, the rest of Loomis’s quote is literally and figuratively unbelievable.

  28. Elaine M. says:

    Cleveland’s Worst
    In the Tamir Rice shooting and other travesties, why do good police officers stand behind their reckless colleagues?
    By Jamelle Bouie
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/03/tamir_rice_shooting_why_do_good_police_stand_behind_their_reckless_dangerous.html

    Excerpt:
    …Of the nearly 800,000 police officers in the United States, most are decent people doing the best they can to uphold the law and protect their communities. A select group of officers is very good at its job. Most others are fine. Some are bad, and a small minority of them are destructive to their mission, their department, and their colleagues.

    Here’s the problem: While most professions will tolerate poor performance, they won’t stand for damaging behavior. A cook who occasionally flubs his order might keep his job; a cook who contaminates food and poisons customers will almost certainly lose it. But modern American policing is different.

    Officers hold great power and discretion, but that doesn’t seem to come with responsibility or accountability. In all but the most egregious cases, bad and destructive cops are virtually immune from the consequences of their actions, even when they lead to death or serious injury. What’s more, unlike the journalist shunned for fabulism or the lawyer disbarred for theft, the officer accused of brutality can expect the full support of his colleagues and superiors. Some of this is understandable: It’s often hard to know exactly what happened in a police-abuse case, and it makes sense to err on the side of the officer. But there are times when that choice is ludicrous—when an officer is clearly in the wrong, but the department stands with him anyway.

    This is the situation in Cleveland, Ohio, where the police department is in full support of the two officers who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice—and where the city is now claiming Rice bears responsibility for his own death. Anyone who’s seen the surveillance video of his killing would disagree. In it, a car zooms to where Rice is standing. Police had received reports that someone was holding a gun in a public park, but the gun was fake, and the “someone” was a kid. Within seconds, an officer fires his weapon, fatally wounding Rice. The cops refuse to give him aid, and when his teenage sister arrives, they tackle her. Paramedics eventually arrive, and they take Rice to a nearby hospital, where he dies.

    Both officers have checkered records. The shooter, Timothy Loehmann, was a washout. Superiors at a previous posting described him as “unable to follow basic functions as instructed” and visibly “distracted” during weapons training. “Individually,” wrote his former boss, “these events would not be considered major situations, but when taken together they show a pattern of a lack of maturity, indiscretion and not following instructions. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.” The driver, patrolman Frank Garmback, was just as ill-equipped, albeit in a more typical way. In 2010, a resident sued him for “excessive force” after he choked her in her driveway. (She had called the police for help.) The city settled last year for $100,000.

    These men never should have been on the street, where in their incompetence they’ve made life harder for other, better police officers. Yet both the city and the police union are behind them. “Tamir Rice is in the wrong. He’s menacing. He’s 5-feet–7, 191 pounds,” said Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Patrolman’s Association, citing a city autopsy report. “He wasn’t that little kid you’re seeing in pictures. He’s a 12-year-old in an adult body.” Responding to a lawsuit from the Rice family, attorneys for Cleveland maintain that Rice’s death was a result of his “failure … to exercise due care to avoid injury.” In other words, he all but killed himself. And at a recent community meeting, city police officers called for “more parenting classes” and more “responsible citizenship” in response to concerns over police violence and brutality.

  29. Mike Spindell says:

    All else ignored, why was Tamir allowed to lie on the ground with the cops refusing to give him aid?
    Only an idiot would not understand that these cops were too busy figuring out how to play this story, to be concerned about the state of the victim. For that alone they should at a minimum be fired. That they are supported by the Department shows a reckless disregard for the public.

  30. blouise says:

    Mike,

    This was the response Loomis gave when confronted with your question:

    “We could seriously hurt you if we do something wrong,” Loomis said in a January interview.

    This is the guy the men and women who belong to the union actually voted into office as their representative. He is their public face to the world. They have no one to blame but themselves.

    • Mike Spindell says:

      Blouise,

      That many people fail to see that America’s police have spun far out of control is a testament to the ignorance bred by the conservative movement and the cowardice of some on the Left.

  31. Elaine M. says:

    Source: Probe Of Ferguson Police Uncovers Racist Comment About Obama
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/03/03/390464149/source-probe-of-ferguson-police-uncovers-racist-comments-about-obama

    Excerpt:
    The full report will be released on Wednesday, but the source described two emails included in the report that were exchanged between police and local court employees.

    One says Obama will not be president for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” Another says a black woman in New Orleans was admitted to a hospital to end her pregnancy and then got a check two weeks later from “Crime Stoppers.”

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