Society and Culture
Police Union Hopes Rice Family Uses $6M Settlement for Gun Education
On Monday, the city of Cleveland agreed to pay a $6 million settlement to the family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old black boy who was shot by a white police office in November 2014. Sadly, the case’s conclusion was overshadowed by an open letter from the Cleveland police union suggesting that the Rice family use the money to educate kids on gun safety.
Stephen Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, released the following letter to the media Monday in response to the settlement.
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) April 25, 2016
The letter in full reads:
We have maintained from the onset this has been an absolute tragedy for the Rice family as well as our involved Officers and their families. Our hearts continue to be with them.
We can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms. Something positive must come from this tragic loss. That would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm.
We look forward to the possibility of working with the Rice family to achieve this common goal.
The letter is clearly referencing the fact that the officers involved in Tamir’s death, Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, had mistook the “realistic looking” toy pellet gun he was holding for a real firearm.
Loehmann and Garmback had responded to the Cudell Recreation Center on November 22, 2014 after receiving a 911 call stating that a “black male was sitting on a swing pointing a gun at people.” The caller told the dispatcher that the gun was “probably fake” and the male was “probably a juvenille,” but that information was never relayed.
It resulted in Loehmann shooting Tamir within two seconds of exiting his squad car. A grand jury decided not to indict Loehmann on criminal charges, but the family’s wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the city was negligent in Tamir’s death.
Following the shooting, Loomis had made several controversial comments effectively blaming Tamir for his own death, with an emphasis on the perceived threat that toy guns pose to officers.
Cleveland.com received an email statement from Subodh Chandra, an attorney representing the Rice family, blasting Loomis’ “victim blaming” themed release. Chandra said Loomis’ comment, “reflect all that is wrong with Cleveland’s police division — he managed to (1) blame the victim, (2) equate the loss of the life of a 12-year-old child with the officers facing scrutiny, and (3) demand money from the victim’s family and counsel.”
He went on to add,
Loomis’s continued posturing shows he and the union still don’t comprehend that the police division needs a cultural change — not hiring incompetents, better training, and greater accountability.
Despite Loomis’s comments, the settlement was a small victory for the family who will never receive proper compensation for death of Tamir. As far as the settlement specifics go, the city will have to pay $3 million of the settlement this year, and another $3 million next year. Of that $6 million settlement, $5.5 million of it will actually be awarded to the estate to be divided among family members.