Samaria Rice is understandably angry that her son, Tamir Rice, was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers responding to a “man with a gun” call.
Unfortunately, she’s delusional if she thinks that the officer’s are going to be convicted of a crime for shooting him.
The mother of four has already filed a wrongful death lawsuit over Tamir’s death but she said this morning that she wants “the police [to] be accountable for what they did to my son.”
“I’m looking for a conviction for both of the officers,” she said.
Tamir Rice was a 12 year-old Cleveland boy who was playing with a realistic airsoft pistol in a public park in Cleveland. His “play” seems to have consisted primarily of his brandishing the toy gun while pacing un and down the sidewalk by himself, according to security camera video. At one point, shortly before officers arrive, he points the toy pistol towards someone off-camera.
A police cruiser carrying two officers responded to a “man with a gun” call. They did not know Tamir Rice’s age. Officers had no way of knowing the gun was a toy. Even if the dispatcher had passed along the 911 caller’s hedged warning that the pistol was probably a toy, they were still required by training, policy, and common sense to treat it as a real weapon until they could confirm otherwise.
It has emerged that the officer on the passenger side of the vehicle who fired the shot that killed Tamir Rice was forced to resign from his prior department for alleged emotional issues. Timothy Loehmann probably never should have been allowed to join the Cleveland police department if he was properly vetted prior to being hired, and I suspect that the city will pay the family a substantial cash settlement as a direct result.
That officer, however, was the least responsible person for Tamir Rice’s death.
He was put into this situation by the officer who drove the vehicle right up on top of Rice’s location. This was a significant tactical mistake that could have easily lead to the two officers taking fire while still in their patrol car if Rice had been a criminal with a real weapon and ill will towards the police.
But the bulk of the blame for Tamir Rice’s death has to be laid on the actions of Tamir Rice. He pointed a toy gun at people in a manner that looked more like a lone criminal menacing than it did a child playing with friends. He then made the horrific and ultimately fatal decision to pull the toy gun out of his pants instead of putting his hands up in the air.
We know now that Tamir Rice was just a 12-year-old with a realistic toy who could not have harmed anyone.
That is not something that the responding officers could have known.
All that the rookie officer knew is that his partner’s decision to drive right up to the picnic shelter put him less than 10 feet away from a hooded figure in over-sized clothes, and when the officer got out of the car, the figure pulled what appeared to be a black 1911-style pistol from his waistband.
Are we really going to claim that a uniformed officer does not have the right to draw and fire his own weapon when he sees the suspect of a “man with a gun” grab what appears to be a gun and draw it? Is society going to tell that officer that he cannot shoot until he is fired upon, and feels the suspect’s bullet impact his body?
This may have been a perfect storm of misunderstood intentions and bad decisions, but once Tamir Rice drew that pistol from his waistband when the officer exited the police cruiser, there was only one horribly logical reaction for the officer. He was going to have to fire in self-defense of his life and in defense of the other officer still in the driver’s seat of the patrol car.
Perhaps surprising everyone, the incompetent officer did as he was trained, and did it well if but for this brief moment.
It’s a horrible turn of events, but the fault for the shooting ultimately lies with the decision of Tamir Rice to draw that airsoft pistol from his waistband.
The officers committed no crimes in shooting him.