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Cleveland to Pay $6 Million to Settle Tamir Rice Lawsuit

25-Apr-2016

Although neither officer involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice admits to any wrongdoing, and a prosecutor calls both responding officers' actions "reasonable," the city of Cleveland has agreed to pay $6 million to the boy's family in order to settle a pending lawsuit.

The city will pay the settlement in two installments: $3 million this year and the remaining $3 million in 2017. The boy's estate will receive $5.5 million, and his mother and sister will each receive $250,000 as compensation for the boy's death.

Attorneys for the Rice family call the settlement "historic," but say, "[I]n a situation such as this, there is no such thing as closure or justice. Nothing will bring Tamir back. His unnecessary and premature death leaves a gaping hole for those who knew and loved him that can never be filled."

Attorneys for the city of Cleveland say that although the responding officers' actions in shooting the 12-year-old boy are considered "legally reasonable," the two officers "recognize the value of early legal resolution to allow some healing to begin."

The case began in November 2014 when a man called 9-1-1 to report that a "guy" was waving a gun around. Although the caller told a dispatcher that the suspect was "probably a juvenile" and that the gun was "probably fake," the dispatcher did not relay that information to responding police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. Officers Loehmann and Garmback believed they were entering a situation where an armed man was threatening the public.

Garmback drove his police cruiser close to the gazebo where Tamir Rice was located. As Loehmann got out of the vehicle, Rice allegedly reached into the waistband of his pants. Believing Rice was reaching for a gun, Loehmann shot him. Soon, it was discovered that the "armed man" was actually a 12-year-old boy, and his weapon was an airsoft gun with the orange safety tip--which would identify it as a pellet gun--removed.

The actions of the dispatcher were called into question once it was discovered that Loehmann shot a child with a toy gun. The dispatcher was criticized for not relaying enough information about the potential scene, including the caller's statement that he believed the "guy" could have been a minor and that the gun was likely fake. Garmback was criticized for driving too close to the gazebo, giving Loehmann insufficient time to adequately assess the situation and forcing him to make a snap judgement that could have been avoided with closer inspection. Loehmann, the shooter, was criticized for shooting within seconds of arriving, resorting to lethal force far too quickly.
The settlement in the Tamir Rice case is in line with settlements for similar recent instances of police violence: The city of Baltimore agreed to pay the family of Freddy Gray $6.4 million after the man suffered a broken neck and died in the back of a police van, and in 2015, the city of Chicago agreed to pay the family of Laquan McDonald $5 million for his shooting death. In the McDonald case, the family had not even filed a lawsuit when Chicago agreed to pay. McDonald, 17, was armed with a 3-inch knife when a Chicago police officer shot him 16 times from a distance of ten feet away. 



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