In an interview with NewsOne, the mother of slain Cleveland 12-year-old Tamir Rice described a heartbreaking decision that no parent should have to make.
Flanked by her attorneys, Benjamin Crump and Walter Madison, Samaria Rice recounted the moments after a police officer killed her son, who was in a park holding a toy gun that was missing its orange cap. Surveillance video shows that police officer Timothy Loehmann, one of the officers at the scene after responding to a 911 call, shot the boy within seconds of arriving.
The last time she saw her son, “I had just fixed [the children] lunch,” Rice told NewsOne and “told them to stick together and be careful and [remind them that] they know what time to come in the house.”
She continued, “A half an hour later, two boys knocked on my door and said, ‘The police just shot your son twice in the stomach.’”
When Rice arrived on the scene of the fatal shooting, she saw her 16-year-old son being held up against a police car surrounded by Cleveland police officers. Meanwhile, her 14-year-old daughter was being detained handcuffs in the back of the police car that Officer Loehmann had gotten out of prior to the shooting.
Rice said as she tried to get to her son, the Cleveland police officers on the scene told her to calm down or they would put her in the police car, as well. “Police gave me an ultimatum” to either stay with her daughter or ride to the hospital with her son Tamir, she explained. “So of course I went with the 12-year-old.” Instead of riding next to her dying son, “They made me sit in front of the ambulance like I was a passenger,” she said.
Tamir died of his wounds the next day and the coroner has since ruled the death a homicide.
Rice described her son as “an all American kid, loved all sports, video games, drawing. He was on the drum line at school, he was a helper.” Yes, he was tall at 5’7″, she said, but his father is 6’4″, and in the end, Tamir was still “a baby.”
Rice family attorney, Walter Madison told NewsOne, “Who knows what this talented child could have been to himself, his family and the world?” The boy’s size has been cited as a reason that he was mistaken for an adult, but that excuse doesn’t wash with Madison.
“That is the insult to the value of Black life, because he is a big child –which perhaps could have been of some benefit to him –they would have you believe he was an adult as if to say it’s okay to shoot him” in that case, said Madison.