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Monday, December 8, 2014

ACMD POLITICS: Family of Tamir Rice to address media for the first time

Tamir Rice's mother, Samaria Rice, is comforted by a mourner as she leaves her son's funeral on Dec. 3, 2014 in Cleveland.
 
Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer/Landov
The parents of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio, are expected to address the media on Monday morning in their first public appearance since their son’s death in November.
Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed Rice, who was holding a toy “airsoft” gun outside of the Cudell Recreation Center on Nov. 22. He died the next day, and was laid to rest last week. The Rice family on Friday filed a wrongful death and civil rights complaint against the city.  Earlier last week, the U.S. Department of Justice found “reasonable cause” to believe the Cleveland Police Department routinely has used excessive force, following the conclusion of a civil rights investigation launched last year to examine hundreds of cases.
The Rice family hired attorney Benjamin Crump, who recently represented the families of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin in those teenagers’ shooting deaths. Walter Madison, a lawyer based in Akron, Ohio, also represents the family. Samaria Rice told ABC News on Monday that she hopes the police are held accountable for killing her son.
“I’m looking for a conviction for both of the officers,” she said.
She also detailed her family’s encounter with the police after her son was shot, saying that her 14-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son were inside a police car after the incident. Her daughter, Rice continued, said the police had tackled her, placed her in handcuffs, and put her in the back of the cruiser.
Rice said she couldn’t believe they “put [her daughter] in the back of the police car, in the same police car that was on the grass that the officer got out of and shot her brother. So my daughter is sitting there, looking at her brother on the ground.”
The shooting was captured on surveillance video and released to the public at the request of the boy’s family. It shows two police officers shooting Rice within seconds of arriving at the recreation center. Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, were responding to a 911 call in which a person sitting at a picnic table under a nearby gazebo said he saw “a guy in here with a pistol” who kept pulling the gun in and out of his waistband. The emergency caller also mentioned that the individual was “probably a juvenile,” and the firearm was “probably fake.” Rice had been walking back and forth along the sidewalk and waving a toy “airsoft” gun, which apparently had the orange safety indicator removed. The cops claimed Rice’s gun appeared to be real.
Loehmann had resigned from a nearby police department in 2012 after being deemed emotionally unstable and unfit for duty, particularly with regard to the handling of firearms.
grand jury will hear the case after the police department concludes an internal investigation, which is expected by mid-February 2015. Jurors will then decide whether or not to charge the policemen with a crime. The officers were placed on administrative leave following the incident.
The Rice family’s appearance on Monday came amid a heated national conversation about police practices, community trust in law enforcement, and public safety. Thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in multiple cities from East to West coasts since last Wednesday, when a New York grand jury chose not to indict the police officer involved in the death of Staten Island man Eric GarnerRice’s parents previously urged the community to remain calm and to demonstrate peacefully. Their plea is similar to that of Michael Brown’s relatives, who recently learned that the police officer who fatally shot and killed their teenage son wasn’t indicted in connection with the Aug. 9 incident in Ferguson, Missouri. The Browns called on their supporters to help them campaign to ensure that all police officers working around the country wear body cameras.
The mother of Garner during the weekend urged the public to continue protesting. Last week, a grand jury in New York chose not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City Police officer who placed the 43-year-old Garner in an apparent chokehold before his death.
In Phoenix, Arizona, residents are mounting pressure over the fatal police shooting last week of another unarmed black man, Rumain Brisbon.
Seventy percent of African-Americans said they think the decisions not to indict police officers in the killings of unarmed black men have decreased their confidence in the country’s legal system, according to a recent NBC News/Marist poll. Just 9% said the outcomes have increased their confidence. For white people, the split is smaller: 35% said their confidence has lessened, and 21% said it has risen.

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