Three Cleveland police officers face administrative charges in connection with the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy whose death in 2014 set off national outrage, officials said on Friday.
The officers will face hearings on Jan. 30 for possible violations of departmental rules, orders, regulations and tactics, Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference. The outcome of the hearings will determine what, if any, discipline will be imposed. Possible actions include suspension, loss of pay, demotion or firing.
The charges came after a nearly yearlong study by a specially created committee that reviewed the findings of prosecutors, internal affairs investigators and other law enforcement agencies involved in the case. The chief said the committee, known as the criminal incident review committee, was created “to really take a deep dive” into what happened on Nov. 22, 2014.
Tamir had been playing with a toy pellet gun near a recreation center when someone called 911 to report him. The caller said Tamir was “probably a juvenile” and that the weapon was “probably fake,” but those qualifications were not relayed to the responding officers, who were told only of a report of a male with a weapon.
A grand jury in December 2015 declined to bring criminal charges against the two officers who responded to the call, Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann. Officer Loehmann, who is white, shot Tamir, who was black, within seconds of arriving at the park. His partner, Officer Garmback, was driving the patrol car.
In announcing the grand jury decision, Timothy J. McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, said that he had recommended against bringing charges. He said the fatal encounter had been a “perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications.”
In April 2016, the city reached a settlement with Tamir’s family for $6 million.
Officer Loehmann faces administrative charges related to alleged omissions on his job application, which did not disclose that he would have been fired from his previous job at the Independence, Ohio, Police Department but that he had been allowed to resign instead. He also did not disclose that while he worked there he failed to secure his weapon and was insubordinate and untruthful to a superior officer, records show. The Independence department concluded that he had “an inability to emotionally function,” that he could not follow simple directions and he had had an emotional breakdown.
Officer Garmback faces charges that he did not follow proper tactics when he drove his patrol car to what was reported to be an armed suspect and did not tell the dispatcher his arrival time when he got to the scene.
Source: The New York Times | CHRISTOPHER MELE