Tamir Rice – Cleveland Settles Wrongful Death Case For $6 Million
On April 25, 2016, the City of Cleveland agreed to pay $6 million to the family of Tamir Rice. Twelve year old Tamir was killed by officer Timothy Loehmann on November 22, 2014.
This case has been interesting and taken different turns in hopes that were betrayed. For example, after the prosecutor declined to charge Loehmann, a group of citizens filed affidavits pursuant to Ohio law R.C. 2935.09. Judge Ronald B. Adrine found that complaints should be filed with the prosecutor for probable cause against Loehmann for murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. Judge Adrine also found that complaints should be filed with prosecutors against Frank Garmback, Loehmann’s partner, for negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.
Prosecutor Tim McGinty took the case before an Ohio grand jury who decided not to indict Loehmann and Garmack. McGinty called the killing of Tamir Rice a “perfect storm” citing human error, mistakes, and communications by all involved. McGinty failed to mention communication problems were on the side of dispatch and the officers.
As we reported previously, Cleveland employees, including the dispatchers, have had their share of troubles, including some terminations. In March of this year, voters let Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty know that they no longer want him in office. McGinty’s opponent, Michael O’Malley, received more votes in the Democratic primary than McGinty. Since there is no Republican opponent, O’Malley is expected to take office in January 2017.
Tamir’ family filed the wrongful death lawsuit in the federal court on December 5, 2014. Loehmann, Garmback, and the City of Cleveland are named defendants. The lawsuit alleges that the City of Cleveland failed to properly train both officers, as well as failed to learn about the Independence, Ohio police department’s internal memo that set forth that the Independence police department found Loehmann unfit to work as a police officer.
In preparing this article, I went to Wikipedia to verify some dates and in the recent updated section regarding the settlement of the family’s lawsuit, it states, “A U.S. District Court will hold a hearing in June 2016 to decide whether to delay the lawsuit while the criminal investigation is still pending.” I then visited the linked footnote and found that the referenced article is from 2015, and that the hearing to decide whether to delay the lawsuit was held in June 2015. In other words, that hearing took place last year and now with the settlement, it is not an issue in the case.
Tamir’s estate will receive $5.5 million. His mom, Samaria Rice, and his sister Tajai Rice, will each receive $250,000 each. Cleveland will pay $3 million this year and $3 million in 2017. Federal judge Polster mediated the settlement, which can be read here. Tamir’s estate is under the jurisdiction of the probate court, which will supervise the handling and distribution of the $5.5 million. The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association has already piped in as to how they would like to see the money used.
Attorneys for Tamir’s family stated that while the settlement is
“historic in financial terms, no amount of money can adequately compensate for the loss of a life. In a situation such as this, there is no such thing as closure or justice. Nothing will bring Tamir back. His unnecessary and premature death leaves a gaping hole for those who knew and loved him that can never be filled.”
The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting a review of the case to see whether either officer violated any federal civil-rights laws. Additionally, the Critical Incident Review Committee is conducting an administrative review to determine whether any of those involved in the incident, including officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, the 911 call taker or police dispatcher — should face disciplinary charges. Loehmann and Garmback remain on restricted duty pending the results of the administrative review.