Five months after Tamir Rice died, sheriff says investigation continues

More than five months after a policeman killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice and a week after his mother asked how long it would take to finish the investigation of a murder that took only a second, the Cuyahoga County sheriff said today that the probe is “almost done.”

The long investigation has prevented the release of Tamir’s body to his family. “Less than a second, my son is gone and I want to know how long I have to wait for justice,” Tamir Rice’s mother, Samaria, said at a recent press conference.

Sheriff Clifford Pinkney told the press today that the investigation, which his department took over in December, was begun “in earnest” in February. He told reporters that he has resolved to leave “zero stones unturned” when the investigation is handed to prosecutors.

He did not set a deadline for the investigation.

Tamir Rice’s mother, Samaria, moved into a homeless shelter soon after her son was killed because she could no longer tolerate living near what she called the “killing field” where her son had been shot.

An online campaign raised more than $40,000 to relocate Rice to a new home and to help pay legal bills.

The Rice family attorney, Walter Madison, told the press that, “emotionally,” Samaria Rice “just couldn’t take it and the homeless shelter was more comfortable for her than her own home.”

A month after the killing a surveillance video released by the city of Cleveland showed two officers pushing the already-dead Tamir’s 14-year-old sister to the ground and cuffing her just seconds after her younger brother had been shot to death. Madison called the treatment of Tamir’s sister “the cruelest thing I’ve ever seen on video.”

Cleveland police are noted for being among the most brutal and incompetent police forces in the country.

The Justice Department released a report last December on the out-of-control Cleveland police that shocked the nation. The horrendous incidents in the report all occurred before the police killing of 12-year-old-Tamir Rice.

Included was a car chase in which over 60 police cars chased a vehicle at high speeds and eventually killed the unarmed driver and passenger, with 13 cops firing 137 shots to accomplish the killings.

In addition to the Justice Department report and its findings it was learned soon after Rice was killed that Tom Loehmann, the officer who killed him, was determined to be “incompetent” at the previous police department where he had worked before starting the job in Cleveland.

Frank Garmback, the policeman who drove Loehmann to the spot where he killed Rice, was himself involved in a horrific 2010 assault of a woman who had called the cops for help but ended up being tackled and beaten by Garmback. Cleveland had to pay out $100,000 in damages to her after Garmback’s attack on her.

Video and reports released on the killing of Tamir show that it took less than two seconds for Loehmann to shoot and kill the child after he pulled up to the park in which the boy was playing with a toy gun.

In an internal memo filed by Loehmann’s former employer, the police department in Independence, Ohio, Loehmann’s handgun performance was rated as “dismal.”

According to the Justice Department report filed before the killing of Rice, Cleveland police “carelessly fire their weapons, placing themselves, subjects and bystanders at unwarranted risk of serious injury or death.”

The Justice Department also said there were cases where “officers shot or shot at people who did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to officers or others.” For example, in 2013, the report noted that police shot at a kidnapping victim after he fled from his assailants wearing only his boxers. The policeman said he believed the victim had a weapon because he raised his hand.

The report cited use of electric shock and tasers on victims who were handcuffed and approval of that practice by police supervisors. One victim was caused to “fall face-first onto the asphalt, shattering four front teeth and causing facial contusions.”

Photo: Samaria Rice center, the mother of Tamir Rice, and others march in Pennsylvania Avenue toward Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 13, 2014, during the Justice for All rally. More than 10,000 protesters converged on Washington in an effort to bring attention to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police. Jose Luis Magana/AP.



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.