After finishing their investigation into one of the latest cases of potential police brutality, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department turned over their report to county prosecutors. Those documents have now been made public. On Saturday, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty released the sheriff's investigation into shooting death of Tamir Rice. The report spans six parts for a total of 224 pages. Little has been redacted from it, allowing for an in-depth look at what allegedly transpired between officers and Rice at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland on November 22, 2014.
Officer Timothy Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, responded to a call regarding an armed individual at Cudell Recreation Center who was at the park with an airsoft gun. Although both officers declined to be interviewed for the investigation, an officer who did speak to investigators claimed that the fake gun looked like the real thing. Per the report, Officer Ricardo Roman "believed the weapon was real until he looked closer at the magazine; even then he still believed the weapon was real." Likewise dispatcher Beth Mandl, who was interviewed early on in the sheriff's investigation, stated that she "was not aware that... the 911 caller had stated that the suspect may be a juvenile or that the weapon could be fake."
According to an unnamed individual who was nearby when the shooting occurred, she allegedly heard the sound of two gunshots before she heard officers issue a warning, then allegedly shoot again. One of the more chilling quotes from the report comes from Loehmann, who allegedly told Officer William Cunningham "he [Rice] gave me no choice. He reached for the gun and there was nothing I could do." Cunningham responded to the scene following the shooting and stated that Loehmann handcuffed Rice's sister and placed her in the back of his police car after she'd tried to enter the crime scene. Loehmann also appeared to be "very distraught," according to Cunningham.
Partial transcripts of interviews released in the report alleges that officers lacked any first aid equipment and that it was not until a nearby FBI agent responded to the scene that Rice received medical help:
As I approached the officers I asked for any first aid equipment, medical gear, anybody that has any of that to bring it over here. They didn't have any of that so I said, 'okay, give me a pair of rubber gloves' and I walked over to Tamir Rice and began to assess him and do the medical treatment I could.
That agent further stated that the fatal injuries described in the autopsy report point to internal bleeding, which appeared to hasten Rice's critical condition and could only be addressed via surgery. It was only during the agent's administering of medical treatment that officers discovered Rice's actual age as 12 years old. The report further states that many other individuals who were interviewed thought Rice was far older: Roman thought Rice was in his twenties, as did Officer Ken Zverina.
In explaining why he chose to release the sheriff's full investigation rather than keep it from the public, McGinty stated that it would be unwise to wait for a lengthy legal saga to conclude. Says McGinty:
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.
McGinty has yet to release a formal statement regarding subsequent legal action nor has there been a date set for a grand jury to hear the case.Images: Getty (3)