Protesters staged demonstrations in Cleveland, Memphis, New York City, and Burlington, Vermont, last night after it was announced that Cleveland police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback would be cleared of any wrongdoing in the 2014 shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, as reported by Cleveland.com and WKYC.
Rice was playing in a playground, waving around a toy gun in November 2014, when a passerby noticed, became concerned, and called the police. There was a reported breakdown in communication between the citizen who made the call, the dispatcher, and the police officers. The caller was said to have informed the dispatcher that the person with the gun may have been a child and that the gun may have been a replica, but that they weren’t sure.
As a result of officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback not receiving this information, they arrived on the scene to what they believed was an older person waving a real gun. Timothy Loehmann can be seen in video firing his weapon at Tamir Rice within seconds of arriving at his location in Cleveland. Rice died the next day.
In New York City, protesters marched through Washington Square Park to the Brooklyn Bridge last night. Several dozen protesters were reported in Cleveland, marching to the Cleveland First District police headquarters after beginning at the Cuddell Commons Recreation Center on the west side, where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot.
The Cleveland protesters were said to march down the middle of the street, along West Boulevard, Lorain Avenue, and West 130th Street, in peaceful demonstrations. Stuffed animals, coloring books, and at least one wrapped Christmas present were said to have been left by friends and supporters of the Rice family at the gazebo in the Cuddell Commons where Tamir was shot.
Cleveland police officers were said to block intersections with side streets and highway access ramps to allow the protesters to demonstrate. Police also cleared a path for the procession and followed with wailing sirens and flashing blue and red lights.
“Hey, Hey, ho, ho, these killer cops have got to go,” the marchers chanted, along with, “If we march today, maybe a kid doesn’t die tomorrow.”
The lobby of the Cleveland police headquarters was said to be locked when protesters arrived. Despite police statements that the station was open, reports of citizens unable to file police reports and gain access to the station were made.
“If you’re that scared of a 12-year-old, don’t be a cop,” one protester identified as Terry Tolefree was said to have berated police.
A local resident was reported to have appeared, spewing a tirade of obscenities at the demonstrators, seemingly displeased with their presence and saying that he “lives there.” It was reported that some members of the group assembled to grieve the loss of the 12-year-old shot by police stated to the man that they “lived there too.” A police officer was said to have escorted the resident away from the scene.
Another member of the group was said to have served hot chocolate and chili to participants and announced a follow-up demonstration this coming Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the Justice Center on “East 55th Street at Union Avenue.”
The Ohio grand jury that decided the fate of the Cleveland police officers responsible for the child’s death, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, had listened to “weeks of testimony,” according to the Toronto Sun.
“Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police,” Tim McGinty the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor was quoted with regard to Loehmann, Garback, and the police dispatchers involved with the response to Tamir Rice.
Frank Garmback’s lawyer, Michael P. Maloney, issued a statement with regard to the grand jury’s ruling, as reported by WKYC.
“It is quite clear that Officers Garmback and Loehmann acted within the bounds of the law. The grand jury’s decision was the correct decision. It was also the only decision that it could legally and properly reach.”
[Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images]