Following outrage that the city of Cleveland would charge the estate of a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police with his last ambulance ride, Mayor Frank Jackson apologized, dropping the $500 claim.
“I want to start off again apologizing to the Rice family if this, in fact, has added to any grief or pain that they may have,” Jackson said at a news conference Thursday.
The claim, filed Wednesday in Cuyahoga County Probate Court, requested $500 for “emergency medical services rendered as the decedent’s last dying expense.” Tamir was shot by Cleveland police in November 2014 while playing with a fake gun at a park.
A 911 caller, who reported that a person with a gun was near the recreation center, told the dispatcher the firearm was “probably fake,” a detail that failed to make it to police. Just two months ago, police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback avoided criminal charges when a grand jury failed to indict them in the death of Tamir.
Loehmann and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty seemed to blame the child for his own death following the non-indictment, claiming he appeared to be a man in his 20s.
Sharon Dumas, the city finance director, said the city never billed the estate and had no intention of doing so, NBC News reports.
She and Richard Horvath, the city’s chief corporate counsel, said the claim filed Wednesday was a “routine” result of the probate process, in which Tamir’s estate asked for a billing statement for services rendered to identify any potential creditors.
“Because of that process being routine, none of the managers” — including Jackson or other city leaders — “were notified of this before it was filed,” Horvath said in announcing that the claim would be withdrawn.
She added that the claim in this particular incident was overlooked.
“It was a mistake of us not flagging it, but it was not a mistake in terms of the legal process.”
An attorney for Tamir’s family condemned the claim Wednesday, calling it poor judgment. The family also rejected Jackson’s explanation, saying the incident was “deeply disturbing.”
“The suggestion that the estate-administrator sending a routine public-records request to the city about a child’s death would then result in the city filing a court claim — particularly when the city’s own police officers killed the child and the claim is already time-barred under Ohio law — makes no sense to the Rice family,” the statement read. “This was a deeply disturbing incident to them.”
A federal lawsuit filed by Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, against the officers and the city of Cleveland is pending.
SOURCE: NBC News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty