Officers Involved in Tamir Rice Case Not Indicted


Written by Timothy Lewis (@MrTeeLew) — January 27th, 2016

On November 22nd, 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead by the police in Cuyahoga, Ohio. Thirteen months later a grand jury trial came to the decision not to indict the shooter, Timothy Loehmann, along with his partner Frank Garmback.

The altercation came after a call to local authorities citing that a juvenile was pointing a gun that was “probably fake” at passers-by. The details of the call were not conveyed to the summoned officers. A 26-year-old officer in training, Timothy Loehmann, was accompanied by 46-year-old officer Frank Garmback. Upon arriving at the scene, the police car pulled up to Tamir Rice. Officer in training, Timothy Loehmann, exited the vehicle from the passenger’s side, facing Tamir. The footage reveals Rice reaching in the general area of the right side of his waistband, his right elbow elevating, before being shot.

Afterwards, it was confirmed that the weapon in question was a pellet gun. The orange safety, applied to identify non-lethality, was removed from the pellet gun’s tip. However, this detail was not exposed before the shooting took place, as the gun was never withdrawn, all evidenced by video footage.

On December 5th, 2014, the Rice family filed a wrongful death claim against Timothy Loehmann, officer Frank Garmback, and the City of Cleveland.

In defense, Tamir was noted as “big for his age,” being 5’7” 170 lbs. with a 36 inch waist. Additionally, he was said to be wearing a large coat. In recorded communications immediately after the shooting, Rice was described as “being in his 20s.”

Within the wrongful death claim the Rice family accused Loehmann and Garmback of handling the situation “unreasonably, negligently [and] recklessly” and that “had the defendant officers properly approached Tamir and properly investigated his possession of the replica gun they would undoubtedly have determined … that the gun was fake and that the subject was a juvenile.”

The in-trial prosecution itself was found to be faulty by the Rice family, failing to construct a strong argument for indictment, and instead forging one in favor of the defendants in question. “It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty (hired to represent Tamir) was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment,” the Rice family’s lawyers said in a statement. “It is unheard of and highly improper for a prosecutor to hire ‘experts’ to try to exonerate the targets of a grand jury investigation. These are the sort of ‘experts’ we would expect the officer’s criminal defense attorney to hire — not the prosecutor.”

The statement comes after McGinty presented enhanced video evidence.. He went on to describe it as “indisputable” that Tamir Rice was removing the gun from his waistband before being shot. He also referenced a previous shooting of police officers that was given a memorial in the Cudell Recreation Center, the same park that Rice was shot in, going on to include “…Police are trained that it only takes a third of a second or less to draw and fire a weapon at them. Therefore, they must react quickly to any threat.“ Lastly, he identified the tragedy as “a perfect storm of human error.”

Timothy Loehmann and Officer Garmback were not required to testify in court, but both provided written statements. The Rice family’s attorneys argued that not requiring the two men to testify in court was special treatment.

Both Loehmann and Garmback had previous discrepancies in their service records.

Timothy Loehmann had been previously unsuccessful obtaining jobs in the Akron, Euclid and Parma Heights police departments. He resigned from Independence’s police department in November 2012, following a poor review in which his handgun performance was regarded as “dismal,” and his demeanor as “weepy” and “distracted.” The letter, written by Deputy Chief Jim Polak, went on to state “He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections … I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.” On September 13th, 2013, Loehmann failed Cuyahoga’s written cognitive exam with a score of 46 percent. 70 percent is the minimal grade required to pass. Records indicate he passed the physical exam.

Frank Garmback was charged with excessive force in 2014. The case was later settled for $100,000 by the City of Cleveland. The woman prosecuting stated, according to her lawsuit, that Garmback “rushed and placed her in a chokehold, tackled her to the ground, twisted her wrist and began hitting her body.” Initially, the woman had called the police about a car blocking her driveway.

While saddened and disappointed by the verdict not to indict, Tamir Rice’s family commented they “are not surprised,” as per a statement through their attorneys.

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