The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old African-American boy shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer Nov. 22, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Friday, the Associated Press reported. The relatives say that police were reckless when they fired at the boy within seconds after he wielded a gun they later discovered was a toy airsoft gun that shot plastic, nonlethal projectiles.
A man had called 911 to report that someone, “probably a juvenile,” had a gun at the Cudell Recreation Center, and though he said the gun was “probably a fake,” that information was not passed on to the officers.
The complaint was filed in the Northeastern District of Ohio of the U.S. District Court, against the city of Cleveland, 26-year-old officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Rice twice, and Frank Garmback, another officer on the scene. The suit alleges the officers used excessive force and committed assault and battery and wrongful death.
The officers had “ample opportunity to safely initiate their encounter from a safe distance but instead stopped their cruiser immediately next to young Tamir,” the lawsuit states.
The family says they are pursuing the case “to secure fair compensation and to help end the violence perpetrated by Cleveland police officers against unarmed members of the community.” The suit also alleges that the sixth-grader lay on the ground for four minutes, alive and bleeding, with no medical care.
“Tamir was playing alone in the park. He was not endangering anyone. He was not violent,” the lawsuit says.
A letter from Loehmann’s previous employer, the police department of Independence, Ohio, states that Loehmann had a “dangerous loss of composure during live range training” and an “inability to manage personal stress.”