Of­fi­cer who shot Tamir Rice saw ‘no choice’

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By James Queally james.queally@la­times.com

The white Cleve­land po­lice­man who shot and killed-12-year-old-Tamir Rice told an­other of­fi­cer he had “no choice” but to shoot the black boy as he clutched a toy weapon last year, ac­cord­ing to de­tails of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion made public Satur­day.

“He reached for the gun and there was noth­ing I could do,” the other of­fi­cer said Ti­mothy Loehmann told him at the scene.

The FBI agent who ar­rived mo­ments af­ter the Nov. 22 shoot­ing told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Loehmann looked al­most shell­shocked, ac­cord­ing tothe re­port.

“The of­fi­cer seemed pretty con­cerned,” the uniden­ti­fied agent said, ac­cord­ing to a tran­script of an in­ter­view with Cuya­hoga County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors. “Ob­vi­ously very con­cerned and uh, I don’t want to use the word, like— al­most like shell shock; like they didn’t know what to do.”

The re­port, re­leased by Cuya­hoga County Pros­e­cu­tor Ti­mothy McGinty, con­tains hun­dreds of pages of in­ter­view tran­scripts, po­lice emails, med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s find­ings and bal­lis­tics re­ports. It makes no rec­om­men­da­tion on whether crim­i­nal charges should be filed.

Loehmann shot Tamir af­ter re­spond­ing to re­ports of a per­son wav­ing a gun. A 911 caller told po­lice that the per­son was prob­a­bly a child and that the gun was “prob­a­bly fake,” but that in­for­ma­tion was not re­layed to the rookie of­fi­cer.

The vet­eran po­lice dis­patcher who took the 911 call has been sub­poe­naed to ap­pear be­fore a grand jury, but re­fused to tell sher­iff’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors why she did not tell the of­fi­cers about the caller’s com­ments, the re­port said.

Loehmann and his part­ner, Frank Garm­back, did not co­op­er­ate with the Sher­iff ’s Depart­ment dur­ing its in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to Steve Loomis, pres­i­dent of the Cleve­land Po­lice Pa­trol­men’s Assn. The of­fi­cers did make state­ments to Cleve­land po­lice in­ter­nal af­fairs and homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tors on the day of the shoot­ing, Loomis pre­vi­ously told The Times.

Many of the doc­u­ments in the re­port were redacted to “ex­clude per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, con­fi­den­tial med­i­cal records and re­ports not ger­mane to the events of Nov. 22,” McGinty said.

“Trans­parency (i.e., the ac­tual facts) is es­sen­tial for an in­tel­li­gent dis­cus­sion of the im­por­tant is­sues raised by this case,” McGinty said in a state­ment re­leased with the re­port. “If we wait years for all lit­i­ga­tion to be com­pleted be­fore the cit­i­zens are al­lowed to know what ac­tu­ally hap­pened, we will have squan­dered our best op­por­tu­nity to in­sti­tute needed changes in use-of-force pol­icy, po­lice train­ing and lead­er­ship.”

McGinty’s of­fice is con­duct­ing its own re­view of the shoot­ing and plans to present the case to a grand jury this year.

The re­lease of the re­port comes about a month af­ter Tamir’s fam­ily com­plained that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the boy’s death had taken far too long. The Sher­iff’s Depart­ment turned its find­ings over to McGinty’s of­fice June 3, more than seven months af­ter Tamir was shot.

The FBI agent and oth­ers de­scribed a chaotic scene in the park where Tamir was shot, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Tamir’s brother charged to­ward of­fi­cers and threat­ened them, ac­cord­ing to the FBI agent. His sis­ter was hand­cuffed and put in a po­lice car.

Sev­eral of­fi­cials who were at the park told de­tec­tives Tamir’s mother was scream­ing at of­fi­cers. A Po­lice Depart­ment su­per­vi­sor in­di­cated her ac­tions may have slowed med­i­cal per­son­nel in treat­ing her son.

Last week, a Cleve­land mu­nic­i­pal judge found prob­a­ble cause to charge Loehmann with mur­der and sev­eral other of­fenses, but the de­ci­sion is ad­vi­sory; whether to pros­e­cute is likely to rest with a county grand jury. No charges have yet been filed.

Po­lice have said Loehmann warned the boy to drop the weapon, and union lead­ers said he had no choice but to fire since he be­lieved Tamir had a weapon.

Many of the of­fi­cers who saw the toy on the ground told in­ves­ti­ga­tors it looked real. One de­scribed it as an “au­then­tic firearm.”

In sep­a­rate in­ter­views with in­ves­ti­ga­tors, the boy who lent Tamir the toy gun said he had dis­as­sem­bled it ear­lier in the week and was un­able to reat­tach the or­ange tip to the bar­rel, which made it more closely re­sem­ble a real firearm.

Marvin Fong Plain Dealer

AN AT­TOR­NEY for the fam­ily of Tamir Rice, 12, ex­presses their anger for the time it has taken to in­ves­ti­gate his Nov. 22 killing by a Cleve­land po­lice of­fi­cer.

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