On Nov. 22, 2014, Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy, was shot to death by a police officer while playing with a toy gun at a playground in Cleveland. Rice’s family is still waiting for justice.
From the beginning and until as recently as this week, Tamir’s death in Ohio has been a sequence of tragic events in which no one has been held properly accountable.
Tamir was playing with a pellet gun when a man waiting for a bus called 911 to report that a “guy” was pointing a gun. He told a Cleveland police dispatcher that the guy could be a juvenile and the gun might be a “fake,” information that wasn’t conveyed to the officers.
Timothy Loehmann, a rookie Cleveland police officer, shot Tamir as he played.
Tamir’s death was among a string of killings that fueled protest against U.S. law enforcement use of deadly force, particular against African Americans.
In 2015, a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to charge Loehmann or Frank Garmback, a second officer who was driving the police cruiser.
On Tuesday, Loehmann was fired after an internal investigation found he provided inaccurate information on his application to join the city’s police force.
Garmback will be suspended for 10 days for improper tactics and receive additional tactical training. He was suspended for driving too close to Tamir seconds before the boy was killed.
Three years after his tragic shooting, the family of Tamir Rice is still waiting for justice.
The police officers were disciplined but not because of their role in Tamir’s death.
The officers’ union said it was challenging the discipline, adding further insult to Tamir’s memory.
Tamir’s mother, Samaria, is right when she said both officers should have been fired.
“He should never have been a police officer,” she said about Loehmann.
She said Cleveland city agencies suffered from systematic problems and that they hope a U.S. Department of Justice investigation will lead to federal civil rights charges.
“Shame on the city of Cleveland for taking so long to deal with the situation,” said Samaria Rice. “We still need accountability.”
Cleveland police have taken some steps to curb the use of deadly force and overhaul their hiring process.
The department has also disciplined two other officers for not doing a thorough background check on Loehmann before he was hired. Williams said the department now makes sure to read through all applicants’ files and employment history.
The 911 operator who took the call about Tamir was suspended for failing to tell the radio dispatcher that the caller had said Tamir could be a juvenile and the gun might be fake.
It should not have taken the death of a 12-year-old before police enacted these policies.