Tamir Rice update: Police shooting being called ‘objectively reasonable’ by experts

Image Source: Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office
Image Source: Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office

The trial for the police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice for playing with a toy gun is off to a bad start. The defense team for officer Timothy Loehmann is pulling out expert witnesses who are doing their best to prove that the shooting of the unarmed child was justifiable and reasonable. At issue is whether the officer acted reasonably by shooting Rice seconds after the officer arrived at the scene. The first indication that a setup for the officer’s exoneration is underway came from two reports prepared on behalf of Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty.

The first report was prepared by S. Lamar Sims, whose resume lists him as a senior chief deputy D.A. in Denver, Colorado. It is noted that in Sims’ report Rice’s toy gun is referred to as a real gun throughout. By quoting case law and the perspectives of a police officer, it soon becomes clear why Sims concluded, “There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking. However, for all of the reasons discussed herein, I conclude that Officer Loehmann’s belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat.”

A second report prepared by retired FBI agent Kimberly A. Crawford states, “Based on the proceeding discussion, and in light of my training and experience, it is my conclusion that Officer Loehmann’s use of deadly force falls within the realm of reasonableness under the dictates of the Fourth Amendment.”

A new video analysis purports to show that Rice was reaching for a pellet gun when the police officer gunned him down. The new video was taken from the surveillance camera at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio, Nov. 22, 2014. There is nothing new in video; however, there is a selected video frame that shows Rice’s shoulder and arm move upward when a police vehicle speeds into the scene. This evidence is being presented to a now seated grand jury to prove that Loehmann feared his life and was in danger when he shot Rice.

Rice’s family is justifiably outraged at the suggestion by the prosecutor’s office. The family has repeatedly asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed to the case and that McGinty be removed. So far, all the reports have been stating that the shooting was “objectively reasonable,” but statements by McGinty intimating that the Rice family has “economic motives” in their pursuit of justice have many feeling that the officer will not be prosecuted for murder.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.

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