President of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association, Steve Loomis, issued a divisive, inappropriate, and polarizing statement on how he believes the family of Tamir Rice should use the $6 million settlement. The 12-year-old was killed when rookie police officer Timothy Loehmann fired on Tamir within seconds of approaching the boy, who was holding a plastic airsoft gun. Another officer, Frank Garmback, was also at the scene of the incident, and neither was indicted by a grand jury.
Tamir was killed on November 22, 2014, and the faux grand jury didn’t convene until a year later. The failure to move the process along quickly compounded the grief of the Rice family, and calls rang out for “Justice for Tamir.” When there was no indictment, the family, as well as many Clevelanders, did not believe that a just verdict had been reached. It was soon revealed that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty maneuvered and used the semblance of a grand jury, which never voted, to get the results the prosecutor desired. There was no documentation of a formal “declined to indict” decision, and McGinty lost the March election to Michael O’Malley in March, likely a vote of no confidence.
In light of the situation, and the decision to settle the case by the city of Cleveland, which means there will be no admission of wrongdoing on the part of Cleveland police — not even partial — Loomis’ statement is particularly insensitive and does nothing to heal wounds that remain open. It also shows a continual inability to view the incident from the vantage point of the Rice family and an uncanny knack for blaming the victim and his family. Not only those in Cleveland, but others shared their disbelief and opposition to Loomis’ stance. The settlement’s clause for no admission of wrongdoing is a legality, but Loomis’ statement is deliberate and troubling, as noted by Cleveland.com.
— HuffPost BlackVoices (@blackvoices) April 26, 2016
Cleveland police union’s response to Tamir Rice shooting settlement has nothing to do with better police training https://t.co/EybALCU6XM
— Salon.com (@Salon) April 26, 2016
It’s the sentence that has me shook.
“Under the terms of the settlement, the city does not admit wrongdoing in the shooting.”#TamirRice
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) April 25, 2016
It is unconscionable that Loomis would attempt to direct the settlement funds of Tamir’s family. It is not their responsibility to train children on the dangers of using real or authentic-looking guns. The job of the Cleveland police is to serve, protect, and not open fire within seconds of arrival on the scene in an open-carry state. If Cleveland officers had a trustful relationship with city residents, law enforcement could go into schools and explain the dangers of guns to students, but when young people feel as though treatment is unfair, they tend to tune out authority figures.
The dispatcher who delivered the message to the police failed to advise them that an initial call indicated that the individual was a juvenile who probably had a “fake gun.” Therefore, there is undeniable culpability on the city of Cleveland’s part. A question of whether fear and inexperience caused Lohmann to act hastily before assessing the situation was also raised. Then there was also a delay in administering CPR and treatment of Tamir’s family at the scene, which are disconcerting, as noted by ABC 13 Eyewitness News.
If Loomis’ statement was truly on behalf of the Cleveland Police union, it is a negative one that further antagonizes and traumatizes the Rice family. How much can one take? It is unheard of for such a statement to be made, and it demonstrates a hardline attitude that in Cleveland, police business will continue as usual, per Fusion. The apathy, lack of sensitivity, and stony-hearted attitude add to the distrust between community members and law enforcement. When one is in a position of influence, tact and discretion are crucial, and Loomis has exercised neither.
Loomis, a prolific spokesman for the Cleveland police, usually has much to share verbally, but decided to release a written statement rather than address the media through a press conference, town hall, or community forum. The Rice family, the people of Cleveland, and the supporters of everyone who has suffered at the hands of those in power will continue moving forward. Unfortunately, no bridge that leads to change or understanding has been built, and for the part he played in this unfortunate outcome, Loomis should be ashamed. Introspection and an apology are in order.
[Photo by Angela Merendino/Getty Images]