According to breaking news reports, the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice has been officially ruled a homicide.
The autopsy report was released Friday morning, with the call being made by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner’s office. According to CNN, the paperwork revealed that young Tamir Rice was killed by a “gunshot wound [to] the torso with injuries of major vessel, intestines and pelvis.”
Tamir Rice was fatally shot on November 22, when police claimed he pointed what appeared to be a weapon at them. Rice was brandishing a pellet gun that had the orange cap removed, which would have made it look like less of a toy and more closely resemble an actual weapon.
Footage emerged shortly after the shooting that showed Tamir was killed immediately by Officer Timothy Loehmann. Police say that Rice was shot merely two seconds after Loehmann exited his vehicle.
As this has been a year of massive, nationwide protests over the unarmed shooting deaths of black men and youths, there are heavy implications for this homicide ruling.
There is a great deal of racial divide over the unarmed shooting deaths of multiple black males over the past couple of years, going back to the controversial ruling in the Trayvon Martin case.
Although much of the focus in the news has been on scenes of violence and looting, the reason thousands of Americans have been protesting these shootings is that they are felt to be racially-motivated.
The Tamir Rice case may be unique in that it will likely be argued that had the pellet gun not been altered to look like a genuine weapon, he wouldn’t have been killed.
The mother of Tamir Rice recently broke her silence about the case.
“I noticed the police weren’t doing anything. I arrived the same time the ambulance did. Tamir was a bright child, he had a promising future, and he was very talented in all sports – soccer, basketball, football. He played the drums, he drew, he played video games, he’s a great swimmer. He was my baby.”
The surviving family members of Tamir Rice have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both Loehmann, his partner, and the city of Cleveland.
With Tamir Rice’s death officially ruled a homicide, it’s quite possible a high profile criminal case will follow.
More to follow as details emerge.
UPDATE: The full autopsy report is available and can be accessed here.