Prosecutors in Cleveland have released details of their investigation into the fatal police shooting in November of black youth Tamir Rice, who was brandishing what turned out to be a pellet gun.
Police were responding to a 911 report of someone waving a weapon around outside a recreational center. Within seconds of arriving on the scene, Officer Timothy Loehmann, 26, had shot and fatally wounded 12-year-old Tamir, who had pulled the gun — which shoots non-lethal rubber pellets — from his waistband.
Among the findings in the report are:
— A friend had lent Tamir’s the airsoft gun for the day in exchange for the victim’s cell phone. “The friend told sheriff’s deputies he had taken the gun apart to fix it and been unable to reattach the orange cap that goes on the barrel to indicate it isn’t the .45-caliber handgun it’s modeled after,” according to The Associated Press. The friend had warned Tamir to be careful because of the gun’s realistic appearance, the report said.
— Loehmann, who arrived on the scene with his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, 47, is believed to have fired at Tamir twice, once from 41 1/2 feet away and a second time from just 7 feet. Autopsy records indicate Tamir was struck only once.
— The medical examiner determined the victims height to be 5-foot-7 and weight to be 195 pounds.
— An FBI agent who was on a robbery detail nearby and who is a trained paramedic arrived on the scene to assist and observed that it appeared the officers wanted to help Tamir after the shooting “but they didn’t know what to do.”
In justifying the release of the report, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said in a statement that “Transparency (i.e., the actual facts) is essential for an intelligent discussion of the important issues raised by this case.
“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 said.
Last week, a judge in Cleveland recommended charges against officers Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide or dereliction of duty and Garmback with reckless homicide or dereliction of duty. However, the decision is largely symbolic because Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine has no authority to compel prosecutors to charge the officers.