Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kevin Patrick Hodgkiss writes

Tamir Rice

A brown boy in the park 
With an air-soft gun 
Twelve years old 
He is a soldier 
He is a hunter 
He is the police 
Protecting the people 
He is courageous 
And victorious 
A hero for his day 
His play

He shoots down the aliens 
The lion on the loose 
The bad guys 
The enemies 
He leads them 
Hands up in surrender

He’s in a bunker 
He’s on a bike 
He’s riding a horse 
A cop car through the night 
A fighter jet 
A jungle jeep 
The people’s defender

He spins 
He twirls 
He moves through his game 
Ready to protect and serve 
He takes his bullet-less aim 
Back up arrives 
Shots are fired 
Three seconds down 
Like a mad dog 
Like a prison escape 
Like a bad guy 
Like the enemy 
In the park 
With an air-soft gun 
Twelve years old.

Serve and protect 
Show some respect 
He shouldn’t 
No he shouldn’t 
In the park 
With an air-soft gun 
Guns are only for the grown-ups 
And the soldiers 
And the hunters 
And the police 
Protecting the people 
From a twelve year old 
Brown boy 
In the park 
With his air soft gun.

Tamir Rice


  1. On 22 November 22, 2014, a man called the police to report a male randomly pointing "a pistol" at people in the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio; at the beginning of the call and in the middle he said the pistol was "probably fake" and near the end that "he is probably a juvenile." In response, two police officers rushed to the scene. The driver, Frank Garmback, had been the subject of an excessive force lawsuit earlier in the year in which a woman had called the police to report a car blocking her driveway but claimed that Garmback "rushed and placed her in a chokehold, tackled her to the ground, twisted her wrist and began hitting her body" and that "such reckless, wanton and willful excessive use of force proximately caused bodily injury;" Cleveland had paid $100,000 to settle the case. The other officer was 26-year-old Timothy Loehmann, who had been dismissed from his previous police job in a Cleveland suburb after as emotionally unstable and unfit for duty after one month of active service. Within two seconds, Loehmann jumped out of the still-moving car and fired two shots from a distance of less than 10 feet (3.0 m), hitting the suspect once in the torso. Neither officer administered any first aid. When his hysterical 14-year-old sister rushed to his aid two minutes later, she was tackled, handcuffed, put in the patrol car, and threatened with arrest unless she calmed down. Almost four minutes later, more police arrived on the scene and treated the suspect. Three minutes after that, paramedics arrived and took him to MetroHealth Medical Center. He died the next day, with injuries to major blood vessels, intestines, and the pelvis.

    Tamir Rice was 12 years old. His gun was an Airsoft replica that could only fire non-lethal plastic pellets. A friend had given it to Tamir to play with minutes before the arrival of the police. On 3 December, 250 people attended his funeral service, which eulogized "his budding talents” and described him “as a popular child who liked to draw, play basketball and perform in the school's drum line."

  2. On the day of the shooting, Jeffrey Follmer, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, reported that the police “pulled into the parking lot and saw a few people sitting underneath a pavilion next to the center. [Loehmann] saw a black gun sitting on the table, and he saw the boy pick up the gun and put it in his waistband." Deputy Chief Edward Tomba further reported, "The officer got out of the car and told the boy to put his hands up. The boy reached into his waistband, pulled out the gun and [Loehmann] fired two shots." On 25 November, a day after a grand jury in Mssouri decided not to indict a police officer for killing an unarmed black youth in Ferguson (one of several such high-profile cases that impelled the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US), 200 protesters marched from Public Square and temporarily closed the Cleveland Memorial Shoreway. On 5 December, Rice's family filed a wrongful-death suit against Loehmann, Garmback, and Cleveland.
    On 3 June, 1915, the county sheriff's office released a statement announcing its investigation was completed. In response to a petition from citizens, on June 11 Municipal Court judge Ronald Adrine, who had no legal authority to issue warrants in such cases, ruled that Loehmann “should be charged with several crimes, the most serious of them being murder but also including involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty," and found probable cause to also charge Garmback with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. He sent his recommendations to Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty. Two days later McGinty released his report on the investigation; Loehmann and Garmback had declined to be interviewed, but police reports indicated that Loehmann shouted "show your hands" three times before firing, though several witnesses denied hearing any verbal warning. On 10 October, McGinty released two reports from outside experts (retired FBI agent Kimberly Crawford and Colorado prosecutor S. Lamar Sims) that concluded the shooting was reasonable under the circumstances. During the grand jury proceedings, Roger Clark, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officer with expertise in police shootings, said prosecutors treated him with hostility and "disdain" for concluding that Loehmann and Garmback had acted recklessly and described prosecutor theatrics, the likes of none he'd ever seen in grand jury proceedings, intended to persuade the grand jurors to uphold the two officers. Jeffrey Noble, another retired police officer and expert in use-of-force cases was attacked by prosecutors for saying that the officers should not have escalated the situation by rushing Rice. Jesse Wobrock, a biomechanics expert hired by lawyers for the Rice family, claimed prosecutors attacked him professionally for his testimony regarding the timing and significance of videotaped body movements by both Loehmann and Rice. On 28 December, acting in McGinty’s instructions, the grand jury declined to indict; according to McGinty, "Given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes, and communications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police." Rice's mother releases a press statement in which she claimed McGinty "deliberately sabotaged the case, never advocating for my son, and acting instead like the police officers' defense attorney." On 25 April, 2016, Cleveland agreed to pay Tamir Rice's estate $5.5 million and $250,000 each to his mother and sister.

  3. Thank you sir. I appreciate your publishing my tribute to this young boy.

  4. Over the past few years there have been a lot of well-publicized incidents of unarmed black people being killed by police. But the Tamir Rice case seems to me the least-justified of them all. As far as I can tell, both policemen are still on the Cleveland police force.

  5. One of the most ignored but egregious facts is that it took Garmback & Loehmann 3 seconds to pull up and shoot Tamir. The released video provides the evidence of this, which cancels out all that McGinty argues.

    Again, thank you for posting this.


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