Evidence continues to pour in supporting the fact that the death of Tamir Rice was a tragedy caused by the boy’s decision to reach for a realistic firearm in his waistband.
Enhanced images now confirm Rice reached for the replica gun in is waistband before being shot:
Enhanced surveillance images of the Tamir Rice shooting offer a closer look at what appears to be the boy walking toward a Cleveland police cruiser, reaching for his waist and lifting his arm and shoulder in the split-second before a police officer shot him.
The images are among 326 released Saturday night by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty that offer frame-by-frame analysis of what two surveillance cameras captured during the Nov. 22, 2014 shooting outside the Cudell Recreation Center.
The images released Saturday were enhanced by Grant Fredericks of Forensic Video Solutions in Spokane, Washington. Fredericks used metadata from the surveillance video to establish the timeline of events leading to Tamir’s shooting. (See the images in the document viewer below.)
Fredericks is a contract instructor at the FBI National Academy and is “one of the most experienced video experts in North America,” according to the company’s website.
Text overlays detail what is seen in certain images.
In one frame, Tamir, who had a plastic replica gun tucked into his waistband, stands up from a bench under the recreation center’s gazebo as a police cruiser drives toward him.
It is unclear if he sees the cruiser, which would come to a stop in front of him about 10 seconds later.
About four seconds after standing up, Tamir puts his hands together in front of his stomach. In the next second, Tamir walks toward the police cruiser as it reaches the gazebo.
As the nose of the cruiser moves past Tamir, the boy moves his right arm toward his waist.
In the next frame, Tamir walks toward the moving cruiser and continues moving his right arm toward his waist. The cruiser’s passenger door opens.
The next frame shows Tamir lift his right shoulder and arm. The cruiser remains in motion as officer Timothy Loehmann springs from the passenger seat.
A frame later, Loehmann shoots Tamir.
The images appear to support arguments made in a trio of expert reports made public by the prosecutor’s office beginning in October. In each report, the experts determined that it was reasonable for Loehmann to believe that Tamir was armed with a gun, despite the fact that the initial 911 caller said that the boy was likely a juvenile and that the gun he had was “probably fake.”
[You can view all 326 pages of enhanced images in one large PDF. I’d suggest using the right arrow key on your keyboard to quickly cycle through the images.]
Rice’s death is a tragedy, a fact that no one has ever disputed.
Unfortunately, there are many in Cleveland—including Rice’s family—who are unwilling to place the blame for Rice’s death where it belongs.
Tamir Rice was a 5’7″, 195 lbs figure who repeatedly pointed a realistic 1911-style firearm at people in a public park as shown in surveillance video. A witness called Cleveland police (as he should), and officers arrived on the scene.
There are some who make a big deal of the fact that the 911 caller opined that the object being pointed was probably a replica, and not a real gun.
His uneducated opinion is utterly freaking irrelevant.
Officers must respond to a “man with a gun” call with the attitude that the suspect is both armed with a real firearm and is proficient in its use until proven otherwise. There is no other reasonable way to approach such a situation.
Unfortunately, the video shows that Rice made the very poor decision to reach for the realistic weapon at his waistband as the marked police vehicle is coming to a stop beside him. Officer Timothy Loehmann sees Rice reaching for his waistband while the cruiser is still moving, and makes the split-second decision that it appears Rice is going to ambush both officers as the vehicle comes to a stop. He exits the vehicle and opens fire as he clears the door.
This is an entirely reasonable response. This is the exact same response a veteran police officer made in Garland, Texas when a pair of Muslim terrorists hopped out of a vehicle and began to draw weapons. He shot both of them.
In both circumstances, the officers had a split-second to respond to what they perceived as men drawing weapons to engage and shoot police officers. In both circumstances, the officers made the correct decision to respond to perceived lethal force threats, shooting until the suspects were down, and not firing one shot more.
It is very unfortunate that Tamir Rice’s family failed to explain to him the dangers of pointing realistic-looking firearms at his fellow citizens for fun. It is very unfortunate that Rice reacted to the police car rolling up by making a movement that any rational person with any defensive training at all would recognize as a movement consistent with an attempt to draw a weapon. It is very unfortunate that Timothy Loehmann happened to strike Rice with relatively well-aimed shots that Rice could not have survived even if they’d been made in the lobby of a trauma center.
This was a tragedy, caused by Tamir Rice’s poor decision to reach for a realistic gun.
There was no crime committed by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann.