12-Year-Old Tamir Rice Didn't Get First Aid For Four Minutes After Being Shot. Why?
It's quite likely by now that you've heard the name Tamir Rice. With stories of police shootings of unarmed black males looming large in the news and the national consciousness over the last few months, the killing of the Cleveland child Saturday has been yet another tragic and excruciating chapter. It was made all the worse when footage was released of the shooting, which apparently contradicted initial police accounts. And now, yet another troubling report: 12-year-old Tamir Rice didn't get first aid for four minutes after he was shot by the Cleveland police, and was only given medical attention after an FBI agent and a detective, who happened to be nearby, arrived on the scene.
For the unfamiliar, Rice was playing around with an airsoft gun — that is to say, a realistic-looking toy pellet gun — at a park near Cleveland's Cudell Recreation Center, when a bystander called 911 to report him. The caller emphasized to the 911 dispatcher that Rice was probably a "juvenile," and that the apparent gun he was carrying was "probably fake," but this information reportedly wasn't relayed to the two responding officers, six-year veteran Frank Garmack and rookie Timothy Loehmann. When they arrived on the scene, Loehmann opened fire on Rice, wounding him fatally.
The Cleveland Police Department's account of the shooting has come under heavy scrutiny in recent days, in particular the claim that the two officers ordered Rice to put his hands up a full three times before firing — in the footage of the incident (which I'm not going to publish here, but you can easily find at your own discretion), the shooting begins within two seconds of the police car stopping.
As detailed by Cleveland's local ABC affiliate, the questions are now getting even louder. Thursday, Cleveland Police Department Chief Deputy Ed Tomba stated that Rice received first aid for his gunshot wounds from an FBI agent and detective who responded to a call, but only after arriving nearly four minutes after the shooting. Up until that time, Officers Garmack and Loehmann didn't provide Rice with medical attention, a harrowing thought considering the boy died from his injuries the next morning, after undergoing surgery to try to save him.
All in all, it's just another piece of a story that's inflamed protest and criticism from various sources, including the city's foremost newspaper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Discussing the awful events of that afternoon, the Plain Dealer's editorial board tore into the Cleveland Police Department, and made it clear that they have a lot of questions to answer.
The shot that struck Tamir appears to have been fired the very moment the officer stands up after getting out of the car. If this is the proper technique for confronting an armed gunman, let alone a 12-year-old boy with a toy gun, one has to wonder what training manual they are consulting. Why did the officers drive right up to Tamir? Why didn't they park further away, climb out of their car and shield themselves with a door or another section of the car, and then order Tamir to drop his weapon? As we said, the police have a lot of explaining to do.
Both Garback and Loehmann are currently on paid administrative leave, and that's become a depressingly common phrase of late — it's more or less standard procedure in these sorts of police shootings, and was the same status which Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was put on after he fatally shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown back in August. According to ABC, Tomba said the city's investigation is hoped to take no longer than 90 days.