In what has now become an all-too-familiar ritual, Samaria Rice went before the cameras Monday morning and expressed her pain and outrage after her 12-year-old son Tamir was killed last month by Cleveland police, telling ABC News she’s “looking for a conviction” for the two officers involved in her son’s death.
Rice explained how the officers also mistreated her 14-year-old daughter in the moments after they shot Tamir, a child whom she described as “very helpful, very caring, very kind.”
Rice said she first learned of the shooting when two little boys knocked on her door and told her that “the police just shot your son twice in the stomach.”
When she arrived on the scene, she said she was warned by police to be quiet and keep calm “before they put me in the back of the police car.” Rice said she looked over at the police car that was in grass and saw her 14-year-old daughter sitting in the back seat.
“I’m asking them to let her out; she’s only 14,” Rice said. “She told me that the police tackled her and put her in handcuffs. And put her in the back of the car.”
Rice said the girl was placed in the car as her little brother still lay on the ground right next to the car, eventually dying from the gunshot wound to his stomach.
“My daughter was sitting there looking at her brother on the ground,” Rice said.
Asked by “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos what she wanted to see happen next, Rice said she wanted to see the police “be accountable for what they did to my son.”
“What does that mean?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I’m looking for a conviction for both of the officers,” she said.
Family attorney Benjamin Crump said the family was “very concerned” about getting justice after a Staten Island grand jury did not indict the cop who killed Eric Garner, whose choking was caught on tape, as was Tamir’s shooting. The Rice family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Cleveland and the police officers, so as not to leave matters in the hands of the local prosecutors. Not only has it been revealed that the Independence, Ohio, police department deemed the officer who shot Tamir, Timothy Loehmann, unfit to be a police officer, but the U.S. Department of Justice released a devastating report last week describing the Cleveland police department as rife with incompetency and guilty of a pattern of abuse and excessive force—particularly against Blacks.
Rice said Tamir was “a bright child.”
“He had a promising future,” she said. “He was very talented in all sports. He was a wonderful kid. Everybody loved him. He was very helpful, very caring, very kind. He was the youngest out of four. He was my baby.”
Unlike the other mothers who have had to publicly grieve after their children were killed, Rice was attacked by the media before she ever faced the cameras. Last month an Ohio newspaper published a story detailing her criminal record for drug trafficking and assault and reporting Tamir’s father had a history of domestic violence against Samaria and other women.
After the Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s story ran, the paper was roundly attacked for releasing information that observers called irrelevant to the case.
In defending the story, Chris Quinn, vice president for content for Northeast Ohio Media Group, perhaps made things worse when he wrote in a column, “Our reporters at NEOMG have been looking into Tamir’s background, to see if he lived a life exposed to violence that could explain why it might be normal for him to randomly aim what looks like a real gun in a public place.”
After the attacks, the newspaper decided to add a line to the original article that said, “People from across the region have been asking whether Rice grew up around violence.”
But when an employee of the paper sent a letter to all of his colleagues criticizing the publication of the “shameful” article, according to rawstory.com, the employee asked, “Who are the ‘people from across the region’ asking that question? More importantly, how is it relevant to Tamir Rice’s death?”
“It isn’t. It simply isn’t,” the employee continued. “And adding a paragraph after-the-fact to try to justify your actions is borderline insulting.”