As the story of 12 year-old Tamir Rice concludes, we remember that it started with a municipal court judge in Cleveland, Ohio who determined that probable cause exists to bring murder charges against an officer. The judge also determined that probable cause exists to charge a second officer with negligent homicide.
In recent news, a group of legal experts ruled the November 2014 police shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice “objectively reasonable.” Rice was shot by Officer Timothy Loehmann while the young African American boy was holding a toy gun. Officers allegedly did not seek medical help for Rice for several minutes, though they did reportedly handcuff his 14 year-old sister and threaten to detain her further.
The only facts not objective in this case is in the pursuit of alternative conclusions, despite the officers in the Tamir Rice case both having questionable employment records. Officer Frank Garmback, the driver of the car that day, had previously been named in a lawsuit against the police department for placing a Black woman in a chokehold after she called for help to tow a car off her property. The case was settled for $100,000. Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Rice, had been released from a previous job as a police officer for “breaking down emotionally while handling a live gun.”
Rice was the youngest victim in a series of well-known cases of police killings of unarmed African Americans—and the latest whose death led to no charges against the officers involved. “There needs to be a complete recall of the distribution of resources that provide police the opportunity to continue to wreak havoc in the lives of black individuals,” says Elle Hearns, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Cleveland. “This cannot consistently be where we are—week after week, month after month, year after year—with no accountability for these officers, no accountability by the city officials, no accountability by the federal government.”
The two Cleveland police officers will face a new administrative review but Rice’s soon to be closed file will land on top of Sandra Bland. Bland was found dead in a jail cell last summer and a Texas grand jury decided not to indict anyone relating to the death of Sandra Bland. There are many things Ohio and Texas have in common.
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