Family Of Tamir Rice Will Get $6 Million Settlement From Cleveland After 12-Year-Old’s Death

In November 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot to death by Cleveland police mere seconds after they responded to a 911 call about someone brandishing a toy gun at a city park. Today comes word that the family of Tamir Rice will get a $6 million settlement from the city of Cleveland, the end result of the wrongful death lawsuit filed in January 2015. As part of the settlement – which will be paid out over two years – the city admits to no wrongdoing in the death of this unarmed child, one of the many Black citizens killed by police gunfire. This echoes a December court decision in which a grand jury declined to indict the two officers involved – Officer Timothy Loehmann, the trainee who killed Rice, and Officer Frank Garmback – calling the young boy’s death a “perfect storm of human error, mistakes and communications,” but not a criminal act, according to prosecutors.

The Rice family’s lawsuit argued that the city was negligent in Tamir’s death. They asserted that 911 dispatchers should have told the responding officers that the caller had indicated the gun Rice was seen holding was likely a toy; the lawsuit also argued that the officers responded to the scene too aggressively, that Loehmann fired his gun too quickly and that both officers failed to give the child medical assistance that could have saved his life. They maintained that the city did not vet their officers sufficiently and that Loehmann wasn’t suited to be an police officer. The city’s initial galling response to the lawsuit was not only to deny responsibility, but to blame Tamir Rice for his own death – though they eventually apologized for their “hurtful and disrespectful” wording, may middle fingers eternally raise in their direction.

Surveillance camera footage captured the entire shooting and supported the Rice family’s allegations, and likely contributed to the city’s desire to settle rather than go to court; at the same time, this video evidence makes the grand jury’s refusal to indict the officers on criminal charges utterly unconscionable. No amount of money will ever bring Tamir Rice back, and $6 million certainly does not repair the harm caused by law enforcement that refuses to take responsibility or change their policies and procedures, not to mention the larger police-worshipping culture that downplays these deaths like they’re an unavoidable casualty of the job to keep the rest of us “safe.”