Two independent investigators, asked to review a Cleveland Police Officer’s deadly use of force against 12-year-old Tamir Rice, have concluded the same thing – that rookie Officer Timothy Loehmann’s actions were “objectively reasonable” at the time of the shooting.
Rice was shot and killed by Loehmann last November outside the Cudell Recreation Center on the city’s west side. A man called 911 to report someone was waiving a gun and pointing it at people, but further statements to dispatchers that Rice was probably a juvenile and that his weapon was probably fake were never relayed to Officer Loehmann before he fired.
We now know that Rice’s gun was actually an airsoft pistol with the orange safety tip removed and that he was 12 years old. Loehmann fired from less than seven feet away as Rice reached for his waist.
S. Lamar Sims, a veteran prosecutor in Colorado, and Kimberly Crawford, a retired use of force expert for the FBI, made their conclusions supporting the officer’s actions in separate reports, released by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office late Saturday night.
Part of the Sims report reads, “There can be no doubt that Rice's death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking,” but it goes on, “I conclude that Officer Loehmann's belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable,” by definition under the 4th amendment in the U.S. Constitution.
That police use of force standard was set by the Supreme Court in a 1989 ruling.
A Rice family attorney dismissed the reports, calling them a charade and telling newsnet5.com in part, “These supposed ‘experts’ – all pro-police – dodge the simple fact that the officers rushed Tamir and shot him immediately without assessing the situation in the least.”
According to prosecutors, the officers involved refused to answer questions for either investigation.
Saturday night, a spokesperson for the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association said they agreed with the findings, adding, “We have maintained from day one our officers took appropriate action based on law and the facts and circumstances they were aware of at the time,” calling the entire situation a “tragedy for all involved.”
You can read the expert reports, along with a third scene reconstruction report from the Ohio Highway Patrol, here.