Cleveland Sends Rice Family $500 Ambulance Bill, Further Proof That City Bungled Case in Tamir’s Death

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Tamir Rice investigation
Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother (center)

The City of Cleveland has inflicted one more indignity on the family of Tamir Rice. After Cleveland police shot and killed Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was holding a toy gun, the city is now filing a creditor’s claim against the family for $500. They still expect them to pay the bill for the ambulance.

According to Gawker, the city says $500 is “past due and owing for emergency medical services rendered as the decedent’s last dying expense.”

This latest incident is just another step in the Rice family’s torturous journey to receive justice. The Rice shooting is a litany of mistakes, poor decisions and official bungling.

Here’s what the Rice family has been through:

  • On Nov. 22, 2014, Cleveland police received a report that a juvenile was pointing a gun at people in a park. The person who made the 911 call said the gun looked fake, but police never received that message.
  • Video depicts a police cruiser showing up on the scene and shooting Rice dead within seconds of arrival. In fact, an investigation showed Officer Timothy Loehmann fired his gun before the police car came to a halt. He also claimed Rice was reaching for his waistband, but this was later proved to be untrue. Loehmann claimed he shouted to Rice to drop his weapon, but several eyewitnesses said they never heard this.
  • The police officers failed to provide CPR to Rice after they shot him. CPR was performed by an FBI agent who was also on the scene investigating another crime. The police also tackled Rice’s sister when she showed up and tried to provide aid to him. They also threatened her with arrest if she didn’t calm down.
  • Loehmann and Officer Frank Garmback, who was driving the car, should not have been on the police force at all. Loehmann resigned from another police department, which was getting ready to fire him. The Independence Police Department deemed  Loehmann emotionally unstable and unfit for duty. However, Cleveland police never reviewed his personnel file before they hired him. Garmback was accused of assaulting a woman who had called to complain about a car blocking her driveway. The City of Cleveland paid $100,000 to settle the case.
  • According to Mother Jones, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, which had been assigned to investigate the case, said that six months after the incident it had failed to interview either officer.
  • The Sheriff’s office presented their findings to local prosecutor Tim McGinty, who seemed to be reluctant to indict the officers. After a public petition, Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine recommended that charges be filed against Loehmann and Garmback.
  • McGinty seemed to be working hard to clear the officers, not convict them. His office commissioned independent reports that said the shooting was reasonable under the circumstances. But according to The Atlanta Blackstar, lawyers for the Rice family found law enforcement experts who produced reports that condemned the Cleveland police’s actions. “The officers engaged in reckless tactical decision making, they unreasonably placed themselves in harm’s way, and Officer Loehmann’s use of deadly force was excessive, objectively unreasonable and inconsistent with generally accepted police practices,” said Jeffrey J. Noble, a retired police chief.
  • The police report on the Rice shooting is filled with several other errors and inconsistencies. The police claim Rice was seated at a table with several other people. They also claim he grabbed the gun when they pulled up and that they saw him reaching for his waistband. All these points were later found to be incorrect.
  • A grand jury declined to indict the officers. But according to Raw Story, they never took a vote on deciding whether to charge them. “If it is true that the prosecutor didn’t even call for an up or down vote on potential criminal charges, including aggravated murder, then it is truly the ultimate insult to the Rice family,” said family attorney Subodh Chandra. “The prosecutor didn’t even think it mattered to bring the grand jury proceedings to their proper conclusion.”

The Rice family has an ongoing wrongful death lawsuit against Loehmann, Garmback and the City of Cleveland. According to The Associated Press, last week U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. dismissed a claim made by Tamir Rice’s father, Leonard Warner, against one of the officers. Oliver also dismissed one claim by Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, but left the other intact.

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