Nearly 100 days after their 12-year-old son was fatally shot by a police officer, relatives of Tamir Rice are reliving the death of their child, their attorney told msnbc.
Rice was playing with a pellet gun outside of a recreation center on Nov. 22 when police were called to the scene over a report of a man with a weapon. Less than two seconds after driving to the area, Officer Timothy Loehmann shot Rice. The child died in the hospital the next day.
In a response to a lawsuit filed by the family against the officers, the City of Cleveland last week blamed Rice and his family for his 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.
“For the first response from the city to be that he caused his own death just really devastated them. It just blew them back to the millions of pieces they were in from Nov. 22,” Walter Madison, one of the attorneys representing the family, told msnbc.
Earlier this year, the Rice family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court, primarily against the Cleveland Police Department. Relatives allege the child fell to the snow-covered ground “still alive, shot in the stomach, and bleeding to death.”
Rice’s death was captured on surveillance video, previously released in November upon the family’s insistence. The footage shows Loehmann firing at the boy within two seconds of arriving on scene. An autopsy report revealed the child died from a single gunshot wound to the torso, which struck a major blood vessel in the boy’s abdomen, and injured his intestines and pelvis. Details later emerged that Loehmann had been deemed unfit for duty in 2012 by a small suburban police department where he previously worked.
“We will never concede this one important fact: Mr. Loehmann should have never been a police officer. So our response? Tamir Rice is not responsible for hiring Mr. Loehmann,” Madison said.
Rice, he added, also wasn’t responsible for the 1.7-second response the officers gave him before firing a weapon at him. “He didn’t have sufficient time to even respond,” Madison said. “Twelve-year-olds cannot appreciate the consequences of their behavior, let alone under the pain of losing your life.”
An extended video with additional footage released later by city officials shows officers tackling Rice’s 14-year-old sister to the ground.
Rice was playing with a pellet gun in Ohio, a state that doesn’t restrict the carrying of unconcealed, loaded firearms in public.
Recent killings by police officers have renewed a national conversation about community policing and law enforcement policies. Grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City decided not to indict two white officers in the deaths of unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner.