In an effort to be transparent and address what they called a shocking response from the City of Cleveland about the death of Tamir Rice, the attorneys for the 12-year-old’s family revealed the boy was shot in less than a second outside of a recreation center on Nov. 22.
During a press conference on Tuesday, attorneys Benjamin Crump and Walter Madison replayed part of the authorities’ surveillance video — previously released in November — that was synchronized with a stopwatch. The footage shows that, from the time the police cruiser stopped moving to when Rice was shot, Officer Timothy Loehmann fired his weapon in 0.792 seconds.
“In less than a second, they made a decision to shoot. If that’s not escalation, I don’t know how you decide,” said Crump, who represented the families in other high-profile cases, including relatives of Trayvon Martin in Florida and Michael Brown in Missouri.
The press conference took place four days after the City of Cleveland blamed Rice and his family for the boy’s death. The injuries alleged by the child and his family “were directly and proximately caused by their own acts, not this Defendant,” the city wrote in a court filing on Friday.
“The city’s answer was very disrespectful to my son, Tamir. I have not received an apology from the police department or the City of Cleveland in regards to the killing of my son. And it hurts,” Samaria Rice said on Tuesday.
On Monday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson apologized for the controversial language used by the city. Rice accepted Jackson’s gesture, but on Tuesday said she awaits an apology for her son’s death from law enforcement authorities and city officials, including the mayor.
“If an apology was on the table for [Rice’s death], I would accept it with some actions and the people being held accountable for it,” his mother said on Tuesday.
The city, Crump said, had more than 30 days to contemplate and articulate their response to the family’s wrongful death lawsuit filed in January against the police department. But “they chose the words they chose,” he added.
Authorities continue to say Loehmann and his responding partner, Officer Frank Garmback, gave Rice three verbal warnings before firing at him. They argue that Loehmann was capable of exiting the cruiser, giving three audible commands, un-holstering his weapon, and discharging two bullets — in three to four seconds.
A pattern of disrespect began on Nov. 22 when Garmback drove the police cruiser off the road and onto the grass where Rice stood, and has continued without officials taking responsibility for the boy’s death, the attorneys said. Details later emerged that Loehmann had been deemed unfit for duty in 2012 by a small suburban police department where he previously worked.
Rice can’t be held at fault when the officers didn’t give him ample opportunity to comply, Madison said, adding that society can’t expect a 12-year-old child to maintain adult standards.
Grand juries in Missouri and New York last year chose not to indict two white officers in the killings of Brown and Eric Garner, respectively. Similar to Rice’s death, the killing that led to Garner’s death was recorded on video and widely distributed in the media.
But Rice’s mother said she is hopeful for a fair investigation.
“We better do everything in our power to make sure everybody knows what happened and be as transparent as possible before they go into that secret proceeding where none of us will know what happened,” Crump said, referring to the grand jury that will convene soon.
Various public officials, faith leaders, community activists, and ministers also attended the press conference, held at the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland.