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Two Outside Police Investigators Claim Shooting of Tamir Rice was Reasonable

2015-10-11

Two outside investigators looking into the death of Tamir Rice have concluded that a Cleveland police officer, Tim Loehmann, acted reasonably in deciding last year to shoot when he confronted the 12-year-old boy carrying what turned out to be a replica gun.

via 2 Outside Reviews Say Cleveland Officer Acted Reasonably in Shooting Tamir Rice, 12 – The New York Times.

This is absurd.  The driver of the police car (who did not shoot) stopped his car unreasonably close to Tamir Rice, and then the passenger policeman got out and shot Rice within two seconds of the car stopping.  How can he claim that it is reasonable to delay only two seconds before shooting??  That’s not enough time to give a warning and wait for a response.   In the videos, Rice clearly did not make any movements after the police car stopped.  How can this instant shooting be considered reasonable when Rice was not making any threatening movements?

Once again we see the Alice-in-Wonderland point of view of police reviewing shootings by their colleagues.  Only a policeman could consider this policeman’s behavior reasonable.  Their point of view ignores the humanity and reality of Rice’s point of view.  Here is a person (12 years old) who has a “gun” in his waistband, not in his hand.  Any “furtive” movement of his hands is purely in the imagination of the shooter, and could not have been observed and patiently responded to in the time allowed.

Why is this policeman so afraid of a twelve-year-old black boy with a gun (that could not have been visible to the policeman) that he has to shoot him instantly without giving him a warning?  The only answer is that policemen are deathly afraid of all black men because of their training– not by experience, because policemen don’t get shot very often.  How is it that a policeman can’t tell the difference between an aggressive, death-defying “active shooter” and a sub-teenage boy who is just playing around and couldn’t possibly have acted aggressively in the time available for observing him?

It is clear that the policeman shot Tamir Rice instantly just because he was black.  There is no other explanation.  If he was white, he would still be alive today.  The policeman assumed Rice’s aggressive and lawless intent without any other information other than that he was black and he “had a gun” (the dispatcher failed to mention the 911 caller’s qualifier that the gun “was probably fake”) which is a simple equation: black plus “has a gun” equals policeman’s right to shoot without warning and without giving him time to surrender peacefully or taking the time to observe him to see if he is aggressive or behaving dangerously.

This is injustice of the worst kind, akin to the exoneration of the policeman who took down Eric Garner with an illegal choke hold (for supposedly selling loose cigarettes, which the policeman did NOT observe Garner actually doing) and then ignored his complaints that he couldn’t breathe.  The policemen who left Garner lying on his stomach and crying that he couldn’t breathe were equally culpable.  This was homicide, not justifiable, and not accidental; excessively aggressive arrest, illegal choke hold, negligence, and ignoring plain duty to protect a helpless man once he was handcuffed.  There is no excuse for this behavior.

There must be regulations that specify serious consequences for this kind of treatment of people, whether they be black, white, or purple polka-dotted.  These regulations must be enforced.  Reading the regulations to every officer at every roll call is the only way to drill it into their heads that they cannot get away with murder just because they are policemen.

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