Here are a dozen shots from the growing memorial for Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was holding what turned out to be a toy airsoft gun when he was shot by a Cleveland police officer at a community park on the city’s west side on November 22, 2014. He died early the next day. Video footage of the shooting, showing how the police officer shot the boy within moments of arriving on the scene, has sparked outrage nationwide. (I wrote about the surveillance tape in a previous post here.)
The memorial, comprised mostly of stuffed animals and other toys left by neighborhood children, sits on a picnic table in a gazebo at the Cudell Recreation center where Rice was fatally shot. The gloomy gray skies and the air’s still chill set a fitting tone at the park late this morning where locals are still coming to pay their respects. Fitting too for the news the city received yesterday.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Cleveland Thursday to deliver a scathing report of two Department of Justice investigations of the Cleveland Police Department’s use of force. From today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer:
The 58-page letter paints a woeful portrait of officers pulling their guns and firing at suspects without justifiable cause, of beating defenseless persons already in handcuffs and of covering their actions by failing to write accurate police reports —if they write any at all. It also enumerates examples of cruel and excessive force being used against the mentally ill.
While welcome, the damning investigation, which calls for immediate sweeping reform, comes too late for Rice, whose shooting was not part of the DOJ investigation, which covered nearly 600 use-of-force incidents from 2010-2013. Surveillance footage of Tamir’s shooting, which shows the boy being shot twice within two seconds of the officers’ arrival on the scene, seems to underscore the report’s assertions that police in Cleveland are quick on the draw.
These are things many residents already had first hand knowledge of. I relocated to Europe from Cleveland more than a decade ago –maybe that’s why I was a little surprised to learn about how abhorrent the situation here actually is. Or maybe I’d just forgotten.
It’s been learned that Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot and killed Tamir, was judged unfit for duty two years ago by the Independence Police Department, a suburb of Cleveland.
A Nov. 29, 2012 letter contained in Tim Loehmann’s personnel file from the Independence Police Department says that during firearms qualification training he was “distracted” and “weepy.”
“He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal,” according to the letter written by Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence police.
Loehmann joined the Cleveland Police Department in March of this year.
Today, Tamir’s family filed a wrongful death suit in federal court against the city of Cleveland and the two officers, Loehmann and his partner Frank Garmback. A copy of the lawsuit is at the link. Cleveland.com reports that lawsuits “with circumstances similar to Justice Department findings” have cost the city at least $10.5 million over the past decade.
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And finally for the record, today’s Pic du Jour was taken late this morning, 05-Dec-2014. I couldn’t think of a more fitting set of photos for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme, ‘Gone, but not Forgotten’.
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