Findings In The Tamir Rice Investigation, What We Know

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has released the Sheriff’s Department’s report on the investigation into the shooting death of Tamir Rice. The report has been more than seven months in the making.

According to the L.A. Times, Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Tamir Rice, told his colleagues he had “no choice but to shoot,” indicating Rice had ignored commands to show his hands. According to the investigative report, witnesses could not confirm hearing Officer Loehmann shouting verbal commands from his squad car, but one witness told investigators that she heard two shots followed by a verbal command.

“…specifically described hearing two gunshots ‘Bang Bang,’ then hearing someone yell, ‘Freeze…show me your hands!’ Then she heard a third and final ‘Bang.'”

While there are some conflicting witness statements, including someone hearing three gunshots when investigators found Officer Loehmann only discharged his weapon twice, several things are clear from the report. Someone called 911 to report that a young, black male, “possibly a juvenile,” was sitting on a swing, pulling a gun, “probably a fake,” out of his pants and pointing it at people. At least two witnesses interviewed confirmed Rice had been repeatedly pulling the gun from his waistband “like a robber would do.”

The 911 caller told investigators he was on his way to the bus stop when he saw Tamir Rice, who he described as an older looking male, pulling a gun at least six times from his waistband. The caller, a victim of a 2012 assault, told investigators he became fearful of Rice, who he claims pointed the gun directly at a passerby. He avoided contact with Rice and called 911 before leaving the area.

Officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann responded to the call, and within two seconds of their arrival, Officer Loehmann discharged his weapon shooting Rice in the abdomen from between four and seven feet away, spraining his ankle in the process. Rice died later that evening. His death has been ruled a homicide.

One of CNN‘s key findings from the investigative report on Rice’s killing was that “all the officers thought Rice was older than 12.” In fact, all the witnesses stated that Tamir Rice appeared to be at least 18-years-old. However, at the time of his death, Tamir Rice was only 12-years-old and just over 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighing almost 200 pounds. Rice was a sixth grader at Marion-Seltzer Academy and had reportedly been bullied by teens at the center where he spent much of his free time. One teen was noted as having hit Rice in the face with a ball.

All the officers at the scene stated that the gun Rice had looked real. It was an air pistol that was missing its orange tip that would have indicated it was not a genuine firearm. The tip, according to the report, was removed by Rice’s friend who, after trying to repair the gun, could not get the tip back on.

We do know that while a judge has found probable cause for charges to be filed against Officer Loehmann, the report does not make any recommendation regarding charges against the officer. This decision will be made by a grand jury once all the facts are presented.

[Photo Courtesy of Rice Family/LA Times]