Weeks after the anniversary of Tamir Rice’s death, two Cleveland police officers involved in the incident are giving their account of what happened.
According to NBC News, Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback believed the pellet gun the 12-year-old had in his possession was real and the child was an adult. The officers gave written statements to deputies at the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department in accordance with the investigation on Tuesday. After numerous delays and public demands the officers be tried before a jury, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty’s office presented evidence to a grand jury last month, Cleveland reports.
NBC News reports the officers arrived near the Cudell Recreation Center where Tamir was previously seen “waving a gun and pointing it at people.” Loehmann said he and his training officer, Garmback, came into contact with who they believed was a man with a gun.
Fearing Tamir would flee towards the recreational center, Loehmann said he shouted out several warnings to the child during the two-second encounter. The car windows may have been up, Garmback wrote in his statement, but he isn’t sure.
Loehmann also claims he tried shooting the gun out of Tamir’s hand.
NBC News reports:
“As the car is slid, I started to open the door and yelled continuously “show me your hands” as loud as I could. Officer Garmback was also yelling “show me your hands,” Loehmann’s account reads.
“I kept my eyes on the suspect the entire time. I was fixed on his waistband and hand area. I was trained to keep my eyes on his hands because “hands may kill.” The male appeared to be over 18 years old and about 185 pounds.”
“The suspect lifted his shirt reached down into his waistband. We continued to yell “show me your hands.” I was focused on the suspect. Even when he was reaching into his waistband, I didn’t fire. I still was yelling the command “show me your hands.” […]”
“I observed the suspect pulling the gun out of his waistband with his elbow coming up. Officer Garmback and I were still yelling “show me your hands.” With his hands pulling the gun out and his elbow coming up, I knew it was a gun and it was coming out.
I saw the weapon in his hands coming out of his waistband and the threat to my partner and myself was real and active.
I fired two shots. I shot towards the gun in his hands.”
Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, released a statement via her attorneys, slamming the officers’ account of what happened and calling it impossible for police to issue numerous warnings between the mere seconds they arrived on scene and when her son was killed.
She also called out prosecutors for allowing the officers to give written statements instead of physically testifying.
Via NBC News:
“Officer Loehmann, for example, is suggesting that he observed things and took action that would have been physically impossible for any human being to do in the less than 2 seconds it took him to shoot this 12-year-old boy,” a statement from the Rice family attorneys said.
Rice family attorneys have objected to McGinty’s use of expert reports evaluating whether the shooting was justified, and they want their own experts to testify.
Three experts’ reports released by the prosecutor’s office concluded the shooting was justified. Two experts hired by Rice family attorneys found the shooting was not justified.
A grand jury is currently determining whether Loehmann and Garmback will be charged in the child’s death.
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