- City of Cleveland offers 20 lines of defence to family lawsuit
- Boy, 12, was shot dead by officers while holding a replica gun
The death of Tamir Rice was “directly and proximately” caused by the 12-year-old’s own actions, the city of Cleveland has argued in a defense document following a civil claim from the boy’s family. Rice was shot dead by a police officer last November.
When he was shot, Rice was holding a toy gun that police mistook for a real firearm. The incident sparked widespread criticism that officer Timothy Loehmann, who killed Rice, employed a drastic overuse of force.
The city of Cleveland’s defense, filed with the US district court on Friday, argues that both Rice and members of his family are to blame for any damages, injuries and losses arising from the incident. The argument lists 20 lines of defence, including that Rice did not “exercise due care to avoid injury” and that members of his family, including his mother and teenage sister, who have lodged the claim, sustained damages “caused by their own acts”.
Video footage of the incident outside the Cuddell Recreation Center in Cleveland was obtained by local media under freedom of information laws. It shows Rice’s 14-year-old sister pushed to ground, handcuffed and taken to the back of a patrol car after arriving on the scene and seeing her brother lying in front of her.
Video footage shows Tamir Rice’s sister arriving at the scene of his shooting. The plaintiffs argue in a submission that was revised at the end of January, after the family took on a new legal team, that the 14-year-old screamed “my baby brother, they killed my baby brother” before she was tackled to the ground by officers.
The lawsuit also claims that Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, did not administer first aid to the 12-year-old as he lay bleeding. It was four minutes until another law enforcement official arrived on the scene and administered medical assistance, the submission claims.
The city’s list of 20 defenses does not go into detail. A request for further comment from the Guardian on Sunday was not responded to by deadline.
The 41-page response frequently cites an ongoing police investigation, conducted by the Cuyahoga sheriff’s office in Ohio, as reason for not responding in full. The Cuyahoga sheriff’s office did not respond for a request for comment on the expected date of the investigation’s completion.
The plaintiffs also argue that Loehmann should not have been employed by Cleveland police, after he had been judged unfit for service by another department two years previously.
Cleveland officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice judged unfit for duty in 2012
Loehmann’s personnel file from November 2012, first reported by local media, found the officer “could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal”.
The city of Cleveland’s response to this argument is that it is “without knowledge or information sufficient” to assess the claims.
Walter Madison, one of the Rice family’s legal team, told NBC news the plaintiffs maintained the 12 year-old was “shot and killed unnecessarily” and that his “death at the hands of an unfit police officer(s) and a division of police that continues to endorse their behavior led to our legitimate lawsuit”.