A 911 dispatcher who answered the frantic call that ultimately led to the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice outside a Cleveland rec center has been suspended for eight days, the Associated Press reported.
In a disciplinary letter dated March 10, Police Chief Calvin Williams stated that dispatcher Constance Hollinger had violated protocol when she took the emergency call from a man who said he witnessed a “guy” pointing a gun at people outside the rec center. That “guy” was Rice, who was playing with a toy pellet gun.
The 911 caller told Hollinger that the person with the gun was likely a juvenile and that the weapon was likely “fake.” However, the “negligent” dispatcher omitted this key information from dispatchers who sent officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback to the scene, a crucial mistake that cost the young boy his life.
Loehmann shot and killed Rice less than two seconds after the officers’ arrival. Ex-Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty asserted that Loehmann and Garmback’s response would’ve been much different had the information from the 911 caller been relayed to them correctly. He said the shooting could have been avoided altogether.
Though Holliger is being reprimanded for her laxity, Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, made it crystal clear she wasn’t satisfied with the brief suspension.
“Eight days for gross negligence resulting in the death of a 12-year-old boy,” Rice’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, said in a statement. “How pathetic is that?
“If that’s the best the “that [the] system can offer, then the system is broken.”
Loehmann and Garmback were never criminally charged for the fatal shooting, but both officers could face disciplinary action from Cleveland safety director Michael McGrath. Such action might lead to their dismissal from the department, the Associated Press reported.
Samaria Rice has since called for the officers’ termination, but Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, maintains that Loehmann and Garmback did nothing wrong by shooting the young boy. Investigators said the officers (wrongly) believed the pellet gun Rice was playing with was real and saw him as a threat.
Last April, the city of Cleveland agreed to pay the Rice family $6 million to settle federal civil rights lawsuit stemming from the deadly shooting.