Wednesday 28 September 2016

Cleveland settles lawsuit over Tamir Rice shooting

Published 25/04/2016 | 15:06

People protest against the police shooting of Tamir Rice (AP)
People protest against the police shooting of Tamir Rice (AP)

The city of Cleveland has reached a six million US dollar (£4.1 million) settlement in a lawsuit over the death a 12-year-old black boy shot by a white police officer.

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The wrongful death suit filed by Tamir Rice's family and estate against the city and officers and dispatchers who were involved alleged police acted recklessly when they confronted the boy, who was playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation centre on November 22 2014.

Video of the encounter shows a car skidding to a halt and police officer Timothy Loehmann firing within two seconds of opening the car door.

Tamir was not given first aid until about four minutes later, when an FBI agent trained as a paramedic arrived. The boy died the next day.

An order filed in the US District Court in Cleveland on Monday said the city will pay out three million dollars this year and three million dollars in 2017.

A grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers, and a federal civil rights investigation is pending.

The shooting raised questions about how police treat black people, led to protests around Cleveland and helped spark the creation of a state police standards board to lay out rules about the use of deadly force in law enforcement.

Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice, had alleged that police failed to immediately provide first aid for her son and caused intentional infliction of emotional distress in how they treated her and her daughter after the shooting.

The officers had asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. Mr Loehmann's attorney has said he bears a heavy burden and must live with what happened.

Tamir lived across the street from the recreation centre where he played nearly every day.

The officers had responded to a 911 call in which a man drinking a beer and waiting for a bus outside the centre reported that a man was waving a gun and pointing it at people.

The man told the call taker that the person holding the gun was likely a juvenile and the weapon probably was not real, but the call taker never passed that information on to the dispatcher.

Tamir was carrying a plastic airsoft gun that shoots non-lethal plastic pellets.

He had borrowed it that morning from a friend who warned him to be careful because the gun looked real. It was missing its tell-tale orange tip.

The settlement comes two years after the city settled another lawsuit connected to the killings of two unarmed black people in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire at the end of a car chase.

Cleveland settled a lawsuit brought by the victims' families for a total of three million dollars.

Subodh Chandra, attorney for the Rice family, called the settlement historic, but added: "The resolution is nothing to celebrate because a 12-year-old child needlessly lost his life."

Tamir's estate has been assigned 5.5 million dollars (£3.8 million) of the settlement amount. A Cuyahoga County probate judge will decide how the amount will be divided.

Ms Rice will receive 250,000 dollars (£170,000), while claims against Tamir's estate account for the remaining 250,000 dollars.

Tamir's father, Leonard Warner, was dismissed in February as a party to the lawsuit.

Mr Chandra said Ms Rice will not comment on the settlement and that she and the rest of her family remain in mourning over Tamir's death.

He said: "The state criminal justice process cheated them out of true justice."

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