Police Abuse

Shots in the Park

Two use-of-force experts call the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice "objectively unreasonable."


After Officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shot a 12-year-old boy named Tamir Rice at a Cleveland park in November 2014, police sources fed two exculpating details to the press: Tamir had disregarded Loehmann's command to raise his hands and had instead brandished an Airsoft pellet gun that looked just like a real pistol. Two days later, surveillance camera footage showed neither of those claims was true.

Two reports released on Saturday by attorneys for Tamir's family say the video also shows the shooting was, in the words of one expert, "unreasonable, unjustified and entirely preventable." That judgment contradicts expert reports commissioned by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty—a disagreement that demonstrates how difficult it can be to hold cops accountable for excessive force in a legal system that gives them a bigger benefit of the doubt than any ordinary citizen could realistically expect.

McGinty plans to submit all the reports to the grand jury that will decide whether to approve criminal charges against Loehmann or his partner, Officer Frank Garmback. One major difference between the two sets of reports is that McGinty's experts focused on the period of less than two seconds between Loehmann's exit from his patrol car and the two gunshots that left Tamir bleeding on the ground, while the Rice family's experts—Jeffrey Noble, a former Irvine, California, deputy police chief, and Roger Clark, a former lieutenant in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department—asked how Loehmann ended up in a situation where he felt the use of deadly force was necessary.

Loehmann and Garmback were responding to a report of "a guy with a pistol" at Cudell Park. Although the 911 caller said the gun was "probably fake" and the "guy" was "probably a juvenile," the dispatcher did not pass along those important details.

While faulting the dispatcher for that omission, Noble and Clark say the two officers were nevertheless reckless in driving right up to Tamir, who at that point was alone in the park, instead of assessing the situation from a distance and formulating a plan. When Loehmann got out of the car, he was no more than seven feet away from Tamir and had no cover.

"Both officers are responsible for the reckless tactical decisions that created the danger and directly led to Tamir's death," Noble writes. He and Clark both cite a 2008 case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit (which includes Ohio) ruled that "where a police officer unreasonably places himself in harm's way, his use of deadly force may be deemed excessive."

Even ignoring the reckless approach, Noble says, "the shooting was presumptively unreasonable in that [it] occurred within 1.7 seconds with no possibility of commands from the officer to the child." In the view of McGinty's experts, by contrast, the alacrity with which Loehmann killed the boy counts in the officer's favor, since the Supreme Court has said courts should be cautious about second-guessing the "split-second decisions" that police make in life-threatening situations.

Loehmann's life was never actually threatened, of course. Whether Tamir moved his hand toward his waistband, as Loehmann reportedly claimed, is unclear in the grainy surveillance video, but it is indisputable that he never produced a weapon—which, as Clark notes, makes the toy's resemblance to a real gun, emphasized by McGinty's experts, irrelevant in evaluating Loehmann's actions.

Noble and Clark, who also criticize Loehmann and Garmback for failing to render any sort of aid to Tamir after the shooting, argue that Loehmann (as Clark puts it) "was unfit for duty as a police officer and should have never been hired." They note that he was forced out of his previous police job after repeatedly lying to his superiors and having an emotional breakdown at a firing range.

Loehmann has obvious credibility problems. But they may not matter if the grand jurors are blinded by the shiny badge that Noble and Clark say he never should have had.

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. But they may not matter if the grand jurors are blinded by the shiny badge that Noble and Clark say he never should have had.

    It is amazing to me how otherwise reasonable people can be so brainwashed with the notion that police have a difficult job and therefore their power over your actions must be absolute. Time and again I get responses “Well, if he didn’t want shot he should have obeyed” even in cases where police were giving conflicting commands. It truly is blind deference to authority.

    1. Courts have worked hard to ensure that “otherwise reasonable people” never serve on a jury.

    2. It’s called Sycophancy – and it’s a dangerous disease.

    3. So, what’s your alternative?
      Understand, police officers do have a bigger concern than the average citizen, that someone they encounter might shoot them. Every time one is shot, it re-enters the mind of every LEO, who doesn’t want to end up that way. That’s why the legal system gives them a bigger benefit of the doubt.
      The comments, here, sound like cops should just accept that they might get shot, by virtue of taking the job, and just accept it.
      Fist, if there was some unique visual characteristic that you displayed, on a constant basis, and you heard that there was a group of people, who would shoot you, just for that characteristic. Wouldn’t you take whatever extra precautions you had at your disposal to avoid that happening.
      In the case of police, it is what they are out there, doing, that is that characteristic and the group they must be concerned about is the very ones they must encounter, regularly. This group is, outwardly indistinguishable from the average citizen, thus heightened concern in every situation.
      I’ll agree, the response, so close to the suspect, was reckless but we don’t know all the particulars and, as the article states, the dispatcher didn’t convey the information that the reports stated it might be a toy.

      1. Wouldn’t you take whatever extra precautions you had at your disposal to avoid that happening?
        I hate that REASON doesn’t have an “edit” button.

  2. McGinty will have no problem stuffing the grand jury with people who love shiny badges.

    Don’t expect anything to come of this.


    2. Yep.

      Not only will this murderer go free, but he’ll keep his badge and gun, and will be shown to be a hero in the War Against Cops?.

  3. Loehmann (as Clark puts it) “was unfit for duty as a police officer and should have never been hired.”

    Describes probably ~90% of cops.

  4. I don’t grasp why BLM hasn’t made this case their centerpiece. This one does actually appear to be an innocent kid who was unlawfully killed by a cop. (As opposed to someone who was in the midst of a crime spree) A cop who, at a minimum, is grossly incompetent, at worst a sociopath. Afterwards a rigged process lets the cop off based upon what, any reasonable officer would have done the same? The Tamir Rice case is full of the police vs. public rhetoric they want to push and yet this isn’t the centerpiece?

    1. How naive you are , the out come has already been determined. This is all window dressing. The police have special immunity to kill any one for any reason and not be held accountable, the system is rigged.

      1. Fine, but why isn’t BLM protesting in Cleveland en masse? This really is police murder.

  5. The officers who killed a 12 yr old after over a year being on paid vacations only provided WRITTEN statements they were not sworn in with the grand jury. They only provided written statements. How is that for special immunity!

  6. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. For further details, Check this link????. http://www.earni8.com

  7. Seems like procurement of personnel is at least part of the problem here. There are, for instance, good doctors and bad doctors. There are good cops and there are bad cops.There are even good draftsmen and there are bad draftsmen,I know because I was a draftsman.

  8. There was a time when something, like the hired defense “experts” described, such as “that he was forced out of his previous police job after repeatedly lying to his superiors and having an emotional breakdown at a firing range” would have disqualified this cop, but the SJW’s whined so much about “discrimination” that such things get disregarded.
    The Cleveland PD might not, even have known about these incidents because of the labor law protections that prohibit past employers from reporting anything but the most basic of information, because “discrimination”.
    Similarly, the “oral” portion of an LEO’s employment test used to try to elicit the character of the applicant, but, once again, SJW’s claimed the results were “subjective” and couldn’t be part of a selection process.
    You don’t get a “diverse” workplace by implementing such policies and we all know “diversity” is the most important thing for a workforce to display.

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