The autopsy report for Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American who was killed by police last month in Cleveland, Ohio, revealed that he died from a single gunshot wound to the torso.
Results of the examination, released Friday morning, show that the bullet entered the left side of Rice's abdomen, struck a major blood vessel in the boy's abdomen, and injured his intestines and pelvis. Doctors at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office listed Rice's death as a homicide.
Rice was fatally shot by rookie officer Timothy Loehmann for holding what was later determined to be a toy "airsoft" gun outside of the Cudell Recreation Center on Nov. 22. Rice died early the next day at MetroHealth Medical Center. Surveillance video depicted Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, shooting the boy within seconds of arriving at the scene. Authorities later released the footage after the boy's family requested it be made public.
The officers were responding to a 911 call in which a person sitting at a picnic table under a nearby gazebo said he saw “a guy in here with a pistol” who kept pulling the gun in and out of his waistband. The 911 caller also mentioned that the individual was “probably a juvenile” and the firearm was “probably fake.” Rice had been walking back and forth along the sidewalk and waving the toy gun.
Loehmann, who had joined the Cleveland police force in March and was sworn in as a full-time officer in August, was deemed emotionally unstable and unfit for duty in a previous small-town police job.
On Monday, the Rice family and its attorneys demanded a trial by jury for the officer, instead of leaving the decision to the grand jury that is set to convene when an internal police review concludes by February 2015. His mother, Samaria, publicly demanded a conviction for Loehmann.
At Rice’s funeral last week, the boy’s great-uncle Michael Petty called on the Cleveland community and the entire country to remember his nephew by demanding changes to law enforcement policies, including a restructuring of officer training. “Tamir can no longer speak for himself. This is why Tamir must live through us. We must now be his voice,” Petty told mourners.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson this week acknowledged that the city's police force has issues, following the conclusion of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice that found “reasonable cause” to believe the city's police department routinely has used excessive force in past high-profile incidents.
Recent killings by officers have renewed a national conversation about community policing and law enforcement policies. Grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City recently decided not to indict two white officers in the deaths of unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner.