A makeshift memorial on a picnic table for Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun who was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer, near the location of the incident in Cudell Coms Park, in Cleveland, Dec. 4, 2014.
Photo by Ty Wright/The New York Times/Redux

Cleveland wants ambulance fee from Tamir Rice’s family

It seems like one of those stories that just can’t be true – a situation that a writer of fiction might come up with to cause a gut reaction from an audience, but not something that would happen in real life.
And yet, as MSNBC’s Trymaine Lee reports, this story out of Cleveland is not a joke.
Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy with a pellet gun tucked in his jeans, paid the ultimate price when Cleveland police opened fire on him on a wintry day back in 2014.
Now the city of Cleveland says they want more, $500 more for the ambulance ride that carried his dead body from the scene of the shooting.
You’ve heard the expression “adding insult to injury”? That doesn’t begin to cover a development like this one.
In this case, local police shot a 12-year-old boy, who was rushed to hospital. He did not survive. Cleveland nevertheless now feels justified sending a bill to the child’s family – with payment due next month – for “emergency medical services rendered as the decedent’s last dying expense,” including a charge for mileage on the ambulance.
One can only hope the publicity surrounding the bill will prompt local officials to reconsider the wisdom of this move, but for now Cleveland is left looking rather ridiculous.
As the MSNBC report noted, Hillary Clinton has already condemned the city’s bill, saying via social media, “Asking Tamir’s family to pay for his ambulance is heartless. Cleveland should drop this fee.”

Update: About an hour after I published this piece, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the city “withdrew” the $500 bill. The article added, “Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson on Thursday apologized to the Rice family and said city lawyers filed the claim because of a public records request from the executor of Tamir’s estate.”