Tamir Rice killing: Cop said 12yo boy ‘gave him no choice’
The Cleveland police officer who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice, told a colleague he had “no choice,” as the boy was reaching for a toy gun. Meanwhile, a witness said the weapon looked “1,000 percent real,” according to a newly released report.
Prosecutors have released the results of an investigation into the shooting of Rice, which also details an FBI special agent's recollection of the aftermath of the shooting.
The 224-page report compiled over four months by county sheriff’s deputies, details the moments after the shooting of Rice on November 22, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. The report includes details from 26 witnesses, interviewed by the sheriff department investigators in connection with the crime.
Two police officers, 26-year-old Timothy Loehmann and 46-year-old Frank Garmback, had responded to a distress call about a “male sitting on a swing and pointing a gun at people” in a city park.
When the officers arrived, Loehmann jumped out of the police vehicle and almost immediately unloaded two shots, one fatally wounding the 12-year-old boy, who was black. The child died in a hospital a day later. Police allege that Loehmann shot the kid after his orders were ignored and as Rice reached for his weapon – a BB gun.
The report notes that the shooting unfolded over the course of two seconds.
“They arrived on scene and were yelling commands at the kid, they stopped the car, the kid went for the firearm and tried to pull it out,” Officer Lou Kitko, who talked to Loehmann at the scene, told the investigators.
However none of the testimonies from civilian witness seem to reflect that claim.
The report also described an FBI special agent’s recollection of events shortly after the shooting. The agent, who happened to be near the scene, said the 26-year-old officer was “distraught.”
“He seemed like a guy that was put in a very difficult situation and had to make a very quick decision based upon what he believed was an imminent fear of death or serious physical injury to himself and reacted to it,” the agent told investigators.
Neither Loehmann nor Garmback agreed to be interviewed by sheriff department investigators.
Other law enforcement officers interviewed by the prosecutors also said that Loehmann appeared distraught after realizing he shot a much younger male than first thought and the subsequent discovery of the BB gun. One of the officers questioned, said the gun looked “1,000 % real.”
As the FBI agent approached the boy who had been shot, he asked the officer to explain what had happen.
“He said (Rice) had a gun, and he reached for it after he told him to show him his hands,” the agent told investigators. “I think it was a very difficult situation for him to deal with and... probably now as the adrenaline was wearing off, I think the realization is kicking in that he just had to shoot somebody.”
The FBI agent also noted that the officers did not have a first aid kid in their car. It was left to the special agent to begin administering first aid to Tamir.
Defending the actions of the officer, the agent noted that Loehmann fired as the situation unfolded, which made him believe that he was in “imminent fear of death or serious physical injury to himself, and he reacted to it.”
“Either way, I don't think it was a position he wanted to be put in,” he told investigators.
“He gave me no choice. He reached for the gun and there was nothing I could do,” Loehmann told a fellow officer moments after he had shot the boy, according to the report.
Rice's gun was found to be an Airsoft replica. It lacked the orange safety feature visualization to show that it was in fact a fake.
The evidence from the investigation will be handed over to a grand jury, which will decide whether to press charges against officers Loehmann and Frank Garmback.
“Transparency is essential for an intelligent discussion of the important issues raised by this case,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, as he released the report.
Earlier this week, a Cleveland Judge ruled that there was probable cause to bring charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty against Loehmann. Garmback also could face charges of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.