November 22 marked the first anniversary of the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by police while he played in a Cleveland, Ohio, park near his home. Tamir died the next day.
Prosecutors have taken another step closer to dismissing any charges against the two police officers involved in the shooting, releasing a report from a third so-called independent investigator who is claiming that the officers acted reasonably.
The latest report, written by Ken Katsaris, clears the police of wrongdoing. Katsaris, like the authors of two previous reports on the shooting released in October, is a long-time associate of the police, for more than 30 years. He is currently working as a police consultant and trainer in Florida and has been called repeatedly to defend police in similar cases.
Subodh Chandra, one of the attorneys representing the Rice family, rejected the report in a written statement, pointing out that it, like the previous two reports released by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, is biased toward the police.
“It assumes non-existent facts—like what the officers were thinking when the officers have not testified, and ignores other critical facts—including the fact the officers rushed up and Officer Loehmann fired immediately, the fact that Ohio is an open-carry state, and that the officers left a 12-year-old boy bleeding and dying on the ground without administering first aid,” Chandra wrote.
Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a law professor at the University of Dayton, told NPR that the way the prosecutor is handling the case is very unusual.
“Take a random theft case, or a random drug case,” Hoffmeister said. “Would they scour the country to find someone to support the person being investigated? They don’t do that. That’s not what prosecutors do.”
A second video of the shooting was also released. This one was taken from a slightly different angle than the first (posted above) and is a bit further away, but it clearly shows that the police needlessly drove up within a few feet of Tamir and shot him immediately, without time to either give the child a warning or for him to raise his hands.
The video also shows that the police proceeded to handcuff and throw Tamir’s 14-year-old sister into the back of the police car where she was forced to watch her brother bleed to death while the police did not even attempt to provide first aid.
Tamir had been playing in the park with a toy gun along with his sister and their friends on the cold and rainy November day. For the most part, the videos show a bored kid sometimes pulling out the toy gun and putting it back in his pants, sometimes talking on a cell phone, sometimes with his head in his arms on the picnic table.
Only a few days before the murder of Tamir, Cleveland police also killed 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson when they bashed her head into the cement sidewalk outside her family home as her daughter watched. Tanisha was in need of medical help when her family called 911 to request assistance for transporting her to the hospital.
Tamir’s murder was one of many outrageous police killings in 2014, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City. In both those cases prosecutors also manipulated grand juries to ensure that charges would not be filed against the police. So far this year, more than 1,000 people have been killed at the hands of the police.
Over this past weekend, hundreds of family members, friends and others from the community took part in a series of events to mark the first anniversary of Tamir’s murder. Events included the dedication of a garden next to the gazebo where Tamir was shot, a vigil, and several panel discussions. On Monday, demonstrators at the prosecutor’s office presented the more than 300,000 signatures on petitions calling for McGinty’s removal and replacement with a special prosecutor.
In addition to obtaining and releasing three reports that defend the police actions, McGinty made statements to a local TV station accusing the boy’s mother, Samaria Rice, of being motivated by economic gain in the death of her son.
“They are very interesting people, I’ll leave it at that. I think their motivations are economic,” McGinty told WKYC, Channel 3, when asked for his opinion of the petition.
Tamir’s cousin, Latonya Goldsby, in answer to a question at a press conference, explained that the family was very upset with McGinty’s statement. “His accusations about the family, that we have an economic gain from Tamir’s death, is outrageous. What kind of economic gain do you get from the death of a child?
“To believe that any mother would want her son killed for economic gain is outrageous. We want a special prosecutor, and we want to see arrest warrants for these officers.”
On Saturday, about 150 people came to the park where Tamir was shot to pay their respects and demand that the police be charged and convicted.
James, with his two daughters, Shariah, 11, and Desiree, 10, said that he believed the police create a “wall of blue” to protect their own.
Pointing to a spot some distance from where Tamir was shot, James asked the question on many people’s mind: “Why didn’t they stop back there? Then they would have had all the time in the world to figure out what was going on. There was no threat to anyone.
“They just murdered him, and now they are covering for their own. I am shocked, this could be anyone. I have girls, but even they aren’t safe. It is hard to raise your kids and have to teach them to be afraid of the people who are supposed to protect you. What gets me is that I have to protect them from the police.
“They will do and say anything to protect and cover for their own. There is already a cover-up in the making. You have the video, you have a dead child, what else do you need? They are just coming up with more and more lies to cover up the police over and over again.”
Julie and Brad attended the meeting on Saturday and were angry that after a year no charges have been filed.
“I am very sad, this is very emotional and confused. Why is it a year and it seems like there are no answers. Every time I play the video and see how they just rushed up on him and shot him, it makes me pissed off.”
Indicating the area where Tamir was shot, Julie went on, “You can see that there is plenty of room for the police to have stopped far enough away to be safe if they thought the gun might be real.
“I don’t trust McGinty or the outside investigators. They are just protecting the police.”
Brad added, “It has been a year and there has been no closure for the family, no closure for the community. This just doesn’t add up that two grown men are allowed to kill a kid. The way it happened with the police driving right up on him, they could have stayed back. It just doesn’t add up.”
A group of teenagers who usually play basketball in the center expressed their anger over the killing and that nothing was being done.
Alfredo, 19, said, “The cops around here have too much power. They look down on us. They got the money, they got the power, they won’t listen to us.
“What happened to Tamir could happen to any of us. It could happen to a young person or it could happen to an elderly person. Anyone who doesn’t have the authority, they are going to look down on them and do whatever they want.
“I listened to the tape, the caller told them it was a kid with a toy gun.
“Tamir wasn’t a danger, he was a kid playing with a bb gun. He didn’t do anything. This was no one’s fault but the cops.”
Angel, 17, said, “If the cops were worried that it was real, they could have pulled up at a distance used their loud speaker to tell him to put the gun down. They just drove up and shot the kid.
“The police are bullies. I feel they are supposed to be here to help people, but all they do is frame you and hurt you.”
Diane and her daughter attended the rally. Diane, along with her husband, both therapists, had worked with Tamir’s sister and other children at the park and in Tamir’s class to help them through the grieving process.
“There is no excuse, he had a toy gun and was playing in a park. He was where he was supposed to be. The excuses are not relevant. The reasons don’t make sense to me. Two adults, police are supposed to be able to know how to handle a situation, not make it worse. There is no way to bring back Tamir.”
MyMi traveled with a group from Boston to attend the weekend events and was shocked to see how easily the police could have handled the situation without killing Tamir.
“This is a whitewash, that is exactly what this is. This is happening to people too often, and there are no consequences for the police. It is alarming to see the depths that a grown person will go to blame another.
“This is happening too much, this killing with impunity. This was a little boy doing what little boys do. The prosecution is just covering for the police.”