Today, Cleveland marks two years since 12-year-old Tamir Rice died from gunshots fired by a Cleveland police officer. Despite multiple claims and promises to afford the family appropriate "due process," the City of Cleveland continues to drag its feet in disciplining the officers involved.
On November 22, 2014, Cleveland Police Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback rushed into Cudell Park where they found Tamir standing alone under a gazebo. Immediately upon arrival, Officer Loehmann fatally shot Tamir, who died the next day.
On multiple occasions, city officials stated that they would conduct an administrative review of the officers' actions, regardless of the criminal case's outcome. On December 28, 2015, County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced that he, and the grand jury, had decided to not file criminal charges against officers Loehmann and Garmback.
At a press conference the same day, Mayor Frank Jackson stressed to reporters that the grand jury's decision would not affect the City's internal investigation into the officers' actions.
"I want to say to the family, the mother in particular, that we are sorry for their loss," the Mayor stated. "We know that it has been a long process, but we do not intend to add to whatever anxiety or agony that they feel in terms of the process. We are concerned about due process. And now that the criminal side is over with...we are now going proceed with the administrative review of what happened.... And the Chief [of Police] will start immediately on that process."
Yet, two years after Tamir's death, and nearly a year after that press conference, the City has still failed to announce the results of their administrative review, which surely must be complete by now. The city's continued feet-dragging adds daily to the family's "anxiety" and "agony."
Subodh Chandra, the Rice family's local counsel, said, "Two years after losing their child, the Rice family is still waiting for the officers to be disciplined. Nearly a year ago, the Mayor and the Chief of Police promised that the City would conduct their administrative review with appropriate due process. The Rice family has waited two years too long for the City to announce its decision. In the meantime, both officers continue to enjoy taxpayer-funded salaries after killing a child, while flouting standard police policies and procedures. It looks like a cover up, and it prevents the family from having appropriate closure. The mayor and the chief must take action now."
"The Consent Decree cannot succeed if the police division is not committed to changing its culture, and accountability is merely an illusion."
Subodh Chandra of The Chandra Law Firm LLC, www.ChandraLaw.com; Jonathan S. Abady, Earl S. Ward, and Zoe Salzman of Emery Celli Brinkerhoff and Abady LLP; and William Mills of FirmEquity represent the Rice family.