The head of Cleveland’s police union used the occasion of the city’s $6 million settlement with the family of Tamir Rice to blame the 12-year-old for his shooting death at the hands of police and to tell the victim’s loved ones how to spend the money.
The president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, Steve Loomis, issued a statement clearly implying that Rice was at fault when he was shot at point-blank range by Officer Timothy Loehmann less than two seconds after the cop arrived at the park where Rice was in possession of a replica gun.
“We can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms,” Loomis said.
Prosecutors declined to recommend a grand jury indict Loehmann after he said he had to use deadly force in the incident because he thought Rice was reaching for a gun. But the Rice family sued in civil court, and on Monday the city offered the settlement without acknowledging any wrongdoing in the case.
The union was quick to issue the statement expressing sympathy for the Rice family “as well as our involved [o]fficers and their families.” The sympathy for the Rice family, however, came in the form of the recommendation that they put some of their settlement money towards “educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm” in order to ensure “[s]omething positive must come from this tragic loss.”
As Cleveland.com noted, Loomis has faced criticism for previous statements about the Rice case. In fact, this wasn’t the first time Loomis blamed the 12-year-old for his death. “Tamir Rice is in the wrong,” he told Politico last year. “He’s menacing. He’s 5-feet-7, 191 pounds. He wasn’t that little kid you’re seeing in pictures. He’s a 12-year-old in an adult body.”
Here is a photo of Tamir Rice the month before he was killed.
“Although historic in financial terms, no amount of money can adequately compensate for the loss of a life,” the Rice family’s lawyers said in its own statement following the settlement. “In a situation such as this, there is no such thing as closure or justice. Nothing will bring Tamir back.”
*Correction, April 26, 2016: This post originally misidentified the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association as the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association.