On the Anniversary of Tamir Rice’s Death, a Community Demands Justice
“Tamir was a kid, doing what kids do, and that’s playing in a playground,” LaTonya Goldby said of her cousin. On the one-year anniversary of Tamir Rice’s death, that’s how she wants him to be remembered.
This weekend, family members and city activists organized a series of events in Cleveland to honor Rice and demand justice for his death. Sunday marks one year since the 12-year-old was killed by a police officer while playing with a toy gun, which was mistaken for a real weapon.
On Nov. 22, 2014, Officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shot Rice during a response to a 911 call about a suspect with a gun. Although the caller mentioned that Rice was likely a child and the gun probably a fake, that information was not relayed to the responding officers. Loehmann, a rookie officer, shot Rice within two seconds of arriving at the scene.
Rice’s death has become a rallying call for police reform at Black Lives Matter protests around the country. Since his death, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland, Jamar Clark, and many others have also died at the hands of police officers.
A grand jury has not reached a decision whether to indict Loehmann or Officer Frank Garmback, who drove the squad car, on criminal charges.
Earlier this year, a Cleveland municipal judge stated that there was enough probable cause to indict Loehmann for murder. Although his opinion has no bearing on Loehmann’s case, some felt it could sway the grand jury. Several months later, community members anticipate that, much like in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the white officer will not be indicted for killing a black suspect.
Over the past few weeks, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has begun presenting information to a grand jury, including two reports that concluded Loehmann acted “reasonably” in shooting Rice. Representatives of Rice’s family have called these reviews “highly biased.”
This weekend’s events will culminate on Monday with a “Shut It Down” march and the delivery of a petition demanding that McGinty resign from the case and allow an independent prosecutor to take over.