Today, the two Cleveland, OH cops that shot and killed 12 year old Tamir Rice were not indicted on charges of killing the 12 year old. Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback will not face charges despite video showing Loehmann getting out of his police car and immediately firing two shots at Tamir.
Loehmann claims that he shouted a warning from his car before exiting the vehicle and shooting the 12 year old. These claims were not backed up by witnesses and there is no evidence to back up the officers claim as security camera footage didn’t have any audio and the officer’s car didn’t have a dashcam.
Prosecutor Tim McGinty said “Simply put: Given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and communications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police.” That sounds like a statement of liability, someone has to be responsible for the death of this 12 year old boy.
The initial 911 caller said that the gun was probably fake, yet that information was not transmitted to officers Loehmann and Garmback; information that could have changed the outcome of the situation. I’m not going to condemn the officers, Loehmann could have shouted a warning from inside his car that was inaudible to witnesses; we have to give the officers the benefit of the doubt without proof otherwise.
With the spate of killings by police officers over the past two years, of predominantly young African American men, ignoring whether or not, it was an illegal act, we have to look at the way police are trained and how system checks and balances are implemented. Clearly there were failures in the handling of the Tamir Rice situation, prosecutor McGinty admitted as much, but will lessons be learnt from this tragedy?
One thing I keep hearing is that Tamir looked older than 12 due to his height and weight, regardless of his perceived age, the decision to shoot immediately without fully assessing the situation is the biggest failure here. It may be standard procedure for police officers, but that doesn’t make it right, procedure has to change to avoid more senseless deaths, we’ve seen far too many deaths by cop in the past two years.
Update [Dec, 29 2015, 20:42]: I have been reading lots of tweets/posts today saying “if Tamir was white, he would still be alive”, to which I ask the question, what this racially motivated or was it a case of an overzealous cop with an itchy trigger finger? Clearly there is an institutional racism problem in the United States, but it’s hard to say for sure if race was an issue in this case as Tamir was waving a gun, airsoft or not, he was still waving a gun. Of course, that doesn’t mean he should have been gunned down, but he did have a firearm unlike many of the other white cop, black man killings in recent years.