How Can No One Be to Blame for Tamir Rice’s Death?

Dani McClain | The Nation | December 29, 2015

First, police killed the 12-year-old black boy at a park, barely bringing the car to a halt before jumping out to open fire. Then, minutes later, they pinned his 14-year-old sister to the ground after she ran up to see about her wounded sibling. Next, a media outlet dragged his parents’ names through the mud, implying that their unrelated brushes with the law made them at least somewhat culpable for their child’s death. And on Monday, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office announced that Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland police officer who killed Tamir Rice last year, would face no state criminal charges.

Within two seconds of the car’s arrival, Officer Loehmann shot Tamir in the abdomen from point-blank range, raising doubts that he could have warned the boy three times to raise his hands, as the police later claimed. And when Tamir’s 14-year-old sister came running up minutes later, the officers, who are white, tackled her to the ground and put her in handcuffs, intensifying later public outrage about the boy’s death. When his distraught mother arrived, the officers also threatened to arrest her unless she calmed down, the mother, Samaria Rice, said.

They shot the boy within two seconds of arriving. What could they have possibly surmised in those two seconds? What might actual police work have looked like, and what were the steps that would have allowed Rice, newly in possession of a toy gun, to have lived through this encounter?

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