The family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot and killed by a police officer in Cleveland last year, planned to accept the city’s apology Tuesday after it was revealed that city lawyers were blaming the boy for his own death, USA Today reported. Rice, who was fatally shot by Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann in November, was playing with an air-soft gun in a neighborhood park when officers responded to a call reporting an older black man openly wielding a firearm. The boy’s family, including mother Samaria Rice, was expected to hold an 11 a.m. news conference with their attorneys Benjamin Crump and Walter Madison to respond to legal documents that Rice failed to “exercise due care” before he was killed.
Mayor Frank Jackson on Monday apologized for the "insensitive" and "hurtful" language contained in 20 defenses responding to the family’s lawsuit against the city for the death. Jackson announced that the defense would be rewritten to remove the offending language. "Whether or not we can explain it away is irrelevant," Jackson said at a news conference Monday. "I'm here to say to you and say to the people and say to the family that we're sorry."
Whether family members will get an apology from Loehmann, the officer, perhaps during a trial or a hearing of their lawsuit, is unclear. In the past, some officers and vigilantes accused of unnecessary use of force against minorities have issued apologies through statements and television interviews. In December, New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo issued an apology to the family of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old man he held in a chokehold that, in part, caused Garner's death. “It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner," Pantaleo said in the statement released through a local police officers’ union. "My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss." Garner’s widow, Esaw Snipes-Garner, and other family members dismissed the apology.
In November, Darren Wilson, the now former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last August, expressed some remorse for the death in a TV interview. He stopped short of offering an outright apology to the family, in the ABC News broadcast. "It's always going to be something that happened,” Wilson said before adding, “The reason I have a clean conscience is that I know I did my job right."
George Zimmerman, the man who faced trial for second-degree murder, was acquitted, and recently learned he would not face federal criminal civil rights charges for the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, apologized twice to Martin’s family in court and in a television interview. “I am sorry that they buried their child," Zimmerman said in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity in July 2012. "I can't imagine what it must feel like, and I pray for them daily."