A rookie cop with a documented history of emotional instability and firearm incompetency was justified in shooting and killing Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who had been playing with a pellet gun in a playground near his Cleveland home last year.
That is the opinion of so-called “experts” who were asked by the Cuyahoga County District Attorney’s Office to “investigate” the shooting that was captured on surveillance video and showed a pair of Cleveland cops driving up to the boy with one of the officers hopping out of the passengers seat and opening fire.
Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann later claimed that Rice had been “reaching for his waistband,” where he had the pellet gun tucked, which, of course, made him fear for his life.
But the video shows Loehmann did not even give Rice a chance, hopping out of the patrol car before it even comes to a complete stop and opening fire.
Within two seconds, Rice is laying on the ground with a bullet in his abdomen.
Loehmann also claimed that he had shouted warnings to Rice, but neither witnesses nor the video backs up that claim.
Nevertheless, a Colorado prosecutor and a former FBI agent released reports Saturday, stating that the shooting was justified. The Ohio State Highway Patrol also released a report where it tried to determine the speed of the police car as it pulled up to the gazebo.
But these opinions are hardly unbiased as they all come from people affiliated with law enforcement.
The case still needs to go before a grand jury to determine whether Loehmann or his partner, Frank Gamback, will face charges.
And grand juries are highly susceptible to the influence of prosecutors, who tend to defend cops at all costs, which is why they commissioned a pair of outsiders to compile these reports.
The reports will no doubt be entered as evidence to help the grand jury make its decision.
Hopefully, they will allow the grand jury to hear the contrary opinion from a Cleveland judge named Ronald Adrine, who believes there is enough probable cause to indict both cops.
Below are screenshots from Judge Adrine’s opinion, which you can read here.
But those are details not mentioned in the recently released reports highlight the assertions that the pellet gun Rice was carrying in his waistband not only looked real, but that Rice, himself, looked much older than 12.
The reports also cite the Supreme Court case Graham vs. Connor, which essentially gives cops the benefit of the doubt when using force against citizens. Or what the courts call “objective reasonableness.”
That means that in determining whether an officer’s use-of-force was justified, whether it results in death or not, the courts need to take into consideration that “officers are often forced to make split-second judgements-in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving-about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”
Therefore, the courts must view the incident “from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”
Open carry is legal in Ohio
Not one of the reports mention the fact that open carry is legal in Ohio, meaning that citizens are not only allowed to possess guns, but they are allowed to openly wear them on their bodies. The only exceptions are open carrying guns while in a car or inside a bar, both which then require the citizen to have a concealed weapons permit.
So even if Rice was an adult as they may have initially perceived, and even if the pellet gun had been real as they had initially perceived, he still would not have been guilty of a crime.
In fact, other than a call to dispatch from a witness saying Rice was randomly pointing the gun at people, but also adding that the gun was “probably fake” and that Rice was “probably a juvenile” – the latter two details the dispatcher failed to relay to the two officers, they did not even have a reasonable suspicion that he was committing a crime.
The reports also don’t mention the fact that the man who called 911 had sat at a table in the gazebo in the park for 20 minutes watching Rice playing with his gun.
And no mention is made of the fact that nobody else called 911, indicating that if Rice had been pointing the gun at others, they obviously did not feel threatened to the point that they needed to call police or worse, kill Rice.
The dispatcher, Beth Mandl, has since resigned from her position in July 2015, more than two months after failing to show up to work.
It was also revealed that she had been arrested in September 2008 for carrying a concealed weapon into a bar without a license – not only miraculously managing to survive that incident without being shot by police, but mysteriously making the result of that arrest disappear after the case was presented to a Cuyahoga County grand jury.
The same month she was arrested for the concealed weapon, Mandl left her job as a dispatcher for Case Western Reserve University’s police department. In December 2010, she was hired by the Cleveland Police Department as a dispatcher where she stated that she never had been convicted of a felony or crime related to her duties as a police dispatcher.
It is not clear if the Cleveland Police Department was aware of her 2008 arrest prior to hiring her, but it does not appear as if they go to great lengths to look into the backgrounds of people they hire.
After all, they hired Loehmann in March 2014, even though he was forced to resign from the Independence Police Department in November 2012 after he proved to be emotionally immature and incapable of following simple instructions.
He also demonstrated an inaptitude for gun safety and performance, according to a document in his personnel file from the Independence Police Department – which the Cleveland Police Department admitted not reading prior to hiring him.
According to Cleveland.com:
A Nov. 29, 2012 letter contained in Tim Loehmann’s personnel file from the Independence Police Department says that during firearms qualification training he was “distracted” and “weepy.”
“He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal,” according to the letter written by Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence police.
The letter recommended that the department part ways with Loehmann, who went on to become a police officer with the Cleveland Division of Police.
“I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies,” Polak said.
The entire letter can be read here and indicates that Loehmann was prone to crying bouts because he was going through a break-up with a girlfriend, which left him devastated for at least four months.
On November 22, 2014, Loehmann was 26 years old and seven months into his job as a Cleveland police officer when he was riding in the passenger seat of a patrol car driven by Garmback, a 46-year-old police officer.
Rice was walking around the park with the gun, which police said had an orange tip removed, making it look even more realistic – not that the cops ever saw the tip of the gun as it was in his pants when they shot him.
A man who was sitting in the gazebo in the park called 911 to report that Rice kept pulling the gun out of his pants and pointing it at people, adding that the gun was probably fake and that Rice was probably a juvenile.
The caller, who can be seen in the surveillance video sitting in the gazebo while Rice walks back and forth on the sidewalk, was apparently not alarmed to the point where he would take cover.
He simply made his call, then told the dispatcher that he was ready to leave the park without any sense of urgency in his voice, as you can hear in the audio recording here.
Mandl, the dispatcher, relayed the information to the officers that a black male was pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it at people.
Rice can be seen sitting in the gazebo, then standing up and walking towards police as they pull up. He appears to be opening his jacket to show the officers the gun.
He is shot before the patrol car comes to a full stop.
Before the video surfaced, police were claiming that Rice had pulled the gun out of his pants, but that was a lie.
According to a Cleveland.com article the day after the shooting:
A rookie Cleveland police officer shot a 12-year-old boy outside a city recreation center late Saturday afternoon after the boy pulled a BB gun from his waistband, police said.
Police were responding to reports of a male with a gun outside Cudell Recreation Center at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard about 3:30 p.m., Deputy Chief of Field Operations Ed Tomba said.
A rookie officer and a 10-15 year veteran pulled into the parking lot and saw a few people sitting underneath a pavilion next to the center. The rookie officer saw a black gun sitting on the table, and he saw the boy pick up the gun and put it in his waistband, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeffrey Follmer said.
The officer got out of the car and told the boy to put his hands up. The boy reached into his waistband, pulled out the gun and the rookie officer fired two shots, Tomba said.
Tomba also told reporters that Loehmann shouted at Rice to “show your hands” three times before he was shot, but that Rice refused to comply.
But the video shows Rice never pulled the gun out of his pants and witnesses state that Loehmann never shouted any orders to Rice.
The video also shows he was not “rushed” to the hospital as police initially claimed, but that he was allowed to remain laying on the ground for four minutes before an FBI agent, who had been in the area investigating a bank robbery, walked up and began administrating CPR. Rice is eventually transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead the following day.
The video also shows police tackling and handcuffing Rice’s 14-year-old sister after she walks up and discovers her little brother had been shot.
As is customary in these cases, neither officer have given a statement about what took place that day, ironically exercising their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when police in this country make a habit out of violating that same right through intimidation tactics.
Kimberly Crawford, the former FBI agent who compiled one of the recent reports, stated that Loehmann was justified in shooting Rice because he was only a few feet from the child with the potential gun.
However, it was Garmback who placed him in that position by driving the car over a curb and into the park where it ended up in an area not even open to cars – essentially placing themselves in the direct line of fire.
When the concepts of threat identification and action versus reaction are applied to the relevant facts of this case, it becomes apparent that not only was Officer Loehmann required to make a split-second decision, but also that his response was a reasonable one.
When Officers Garmback and Loehmann arrived on the scene, Officer Loehmann was on the passenger side of the vehicle which was within close proximity to Rice. At the time, Rice was reportedly armed with a handgun, and Officer Loehmann was without cover. Following universal training and procedures, Officer Loehmann’s attention would be focused on Rice’s hands as they moved towards his waist band and lifted his jacket. Unquestionably, the actions of Rice could reasonably be perceived as a serious threat to Officer Loehmann. Waiting to see if Rice came out with a firearm would be contrary to action versus reaction training. Considering Officer Loehmann’s close proximity to Rice and lack of cover, the need to react quickly was imperative. Delaying the use of force until Officer Loehmann could confirm Rice’s intentions would not be considered a safe alternative under the circumstances.
S. Lamar Sims, Senior Chief Deputy for the Denver District Attorney’s Office, stated the following in the other report:
Determining whether Officer Loehmann’s actions were objectively reasonable requires a careful analysis of the circumstances surrounding the officers’ attempt to contact Rice with particular emphasis on the facts known to Officer Loehmann at the time and such reasonable inferences as may be drawn from those facts.
Officers Garmback and Loehmann were responding to a call of a party with a gun at a park and recreation center. Additional information was that the party was said to be pulling the gun out ofhis pants and pointing it at people. They were provided no more facts other than a description of the suspect’s clothing and a possible location. A “gun” call suggests to any reasonable officer that there is a concern for his safety and the safety of others, particularly where the officer is responding to a location where there may be children and young people – such as a park and recreational center – and where the suspect is said to be aiming the weapon at people. When responding to such a call, a reasonable officer may either remove his firearm from its holster or place his hand on the holstered gun. As they arrived, Officer Garmback drove the patrol car to the gazebo where one party was located. He approached and stopped in such fashion that Officer Loehmann was in a position of great peril- he was within feet of a gunman who had – he was within feet of a gunman who had stood up, was approaching the police car and reaching towards his waistband. The officers did not create the violent situation – they were responding to a situation fraught with the potential for violence to citizens.
But the officers did create the violent situation by one of them driving up to the potential gunman to allow the other cop to step out and open fire within two seconds.
The Cleveland Police Department also created the violent situation by hiring Loehmann despite the fact that he was already deemed unfit for police work by a much smaller police agency.
And by lying about the details of the incident, claiming they had ordered him to show his hands as well as claiming he had pulled out the gun, they are creating potentially violent situations from others who are angered by the lies and the shooting.
Below are three videos, including one that starts from the moment the cops pull up, another that begins more than seven minutes before the cops pull up and the third one showing police tackling and handcuffing Rice’s sister.