Read the Report from the Sheriff's Investigation into Tamir Rice's Death
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office today released the Sheriff’s Department investigation into the death of Tamir Rice last November. The report points out that the investigative team “has not, and will not, render any opinion of the legality of the officers’ actions.” The 224 page report was handed over to Prosecutor Timothy McGinty earlier this month.
In a written statement, McGinty says he is releasing the report in an effort to provide transparency. “If we wait years for all litigation to be completed before the citizens are allowed to know what actually happened, we will have squandered our best opportunity to institute needed changes in use of force policy, police training and leadership.”
He reiterated his plan to present evidence from the investigation to a grand jury which “ultimately makes the final decision…whether criminal charges are warranted.”
At approximately 3:30 pm on November 22, 2014, twelve year old Tamir Rice was shot by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann. The following are details from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s investigative report.
- At 3:22 pm, a 911 call reported a male with a “pistol” outside the Cudell Recreation Center on the west side of Cleveland . The caller said that the male was pulling the gun in and out of his pants. He added that the male could be a “juvenile” and that the gun was “probably fake” but he “couldn’t tell if it was real or not.”
- Dispatch informed Cleveland police officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann that at “Cudell Rec Center… there’s a black male sitting on a swing… pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it at people.”
- The Sheriff’s report describes the encounter: “As the ZC (zone car) came to a stop, Officer Loehmann exited the vehicle. Video surveillance shows RICE pulling up his outer garment with both hands near the right side of his waist. Officer Loehmann exited the ZC (zone car) and discharged his duty weapon at RICE. While retreating towards the rear of the ZC, Officer Loehmann stumbled and fell backward, regained his footing, and found cover behind the vehicle’s trunk on the driver’s side.”
- Loehmann was between 4.5 to 7 feet away from Rice when he fired two bullets within one to two seconds of exiting his car. One hit Rice in the abdomen.
- Investigators were unable to determine through witness interviews whether, as Officer Loehmann told other officers who later arrived at the scene, he shouted commands to Rice from inside the police car before he fired at Rice.
- At 3:29 pm, Officer Garmback contacted police dispatch that shots had been fired and requested medical assistance. A second transmission said EMS (Emergency Medical Service) should “Step it up.” He also asked the fire department to respond.
- A Cleveland detective and FBI agent investigating a bank robbery nearby were the first to arrive. The FBI agent was a registered paramedic and was the first to give Rice medical attention.
- Rice’s sister ran to him and was stopped from entering the crime scene by Officer Loehmann. One officer who witnessed the altercation described it as, “Officer Loehmann did not slam her to the ground; but said that she slipped on the wet grass as he put his arms out to stop her.” She was placed in a police car because she was kicking and screaming “You killed my brother.”
- Paramedics arrived approximately 8 minutes after the incident. One paramedic said Rice was “unresponsive while en route to MetroHealth Medical Center.”
- Rice died at 12:54 am the next day. The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide.
- Officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann declined to be interviewed by Sheriff’s department detectives.
Details about the weapon:
- The weapon that was believed to be a gun was a replica firearm described as “plastic spring-powered air soft pistol, easy slide pump for quick loading.” Its magazine shoots 13 BBs. The Sheriff’s report refers to it as a replica firearm (RF).
- Rice and his best friend traded a cell phone with wifi capacity for the replica firearm. In an interview with investigators, the friend “explained that the RF malfunctioned and he disassembled the weapon to repair it. He was unable to get the ‘orange tip’ back on the barrel during reassembly. … and told Rice to be careful because the RF ‘looked real.’”
- Four witnesses interviewed by investigators reported seeing Rice waving the RF. Another witness said Rice showed her the weapon.
- Four officers and a detective who arrived on the scene believed the RF was real.
Officers arrived at the scene after the incident:
- An FBI agent and another Cleveland police officer were the first law enforcement to arrive on the scene. The agent described Officer Loehmann as “distraught” and “Reported that Officer Loehmann told him that the subject had a gun and reached for it after telling him to show his hands.”
- Officer William Cunningham, who has worked off duty at Cudell Rec Center every Saturday for 4 years, was inside Cudell at the time of the incident. He came out when he’d been told police had shot someone. He found Loehmann to be “very distraught” and Loehmann told Cunningham, “’He gave me no choice. He reached for the gun and there was nothing I could do.’”
- Officer Lou Kitko was told by Loehmann, “'They arrived at the scene, yelling commands at the kid, they stopped the car and the kid went for the firearm and pulled it out.’”
- Beth Mandl, dispatcher with the City of Cleveland, clarified to investigators that “dispatchers do not have contact with 911 callers.” She said she was “not aware that the 911 caller had stated that the suspect may be juvenile or that the weapon could be fake.”
- Constance Hollinger, dispatcher for the City of Cleveland and call taker that day, refused to answer questions on the advice of her attorney.
- Two officers at the scene, a supervisor and the 911 caller believed Rice to be 16 years or older.
- Rice’s mother Samaria Rice declined to be interviewed by investigators.
Below is surveillence video of the shooting of Tamir Rice. WARNING: This video contains violent images that many could find disturbing. It may not be suitable for all viewers.