I have to say that I am bothered by the grand jury failing to bring charges against the two Cleveland police officers responsible for the death of 12-year old Tamir Rice last year.
The prosecutor was able to convince the grand jury that Rice had reached into his shirt for the toy gun as the officers arrived. Quite frankly, it amounted to a drive-by shooting.
If they believed that Rice was armed and dangerous why approach him so closely with their vehicle? The officers should have exercised caution.
To be fair, the officers had not been told by dispatchers that Rice was probably carrying a toy gun. Still, this demonstrates negligence on the part of the Cleveland PD. They also demonstrated negligence with regard to the hiring of Timothy Loehmann, the officer responsible for shooting and killing Rice. Loehmann had previously been employed as a police officer in Independence, Ohio and was given a negative evaluation that town’s deputy police chief in November 2012, two years before Rice’s death:
He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.
Incredibly, the Cleveland PD never reviewed this letter when Loehmann applied for a position.
The Rice family sued the Cleveland PD and the two officers involved a year ago. I strongly suspect that they will get the justice not afforded to them by the grand jury today.
While I intensely dislike those who pillory the police for the sake of pillorying the police and have no use for Black Lives Matter, the police cannot protect and serve if they behave in either a vicious or incompetent manner or see fit to hire people who have a history of viciousness or incompetence. We give police enormous power and if they see fit to abuse those powers or are unable to exercise those powers competently then public order ceases to be. The public ought to trust the police, but trust must be earned.
Yet I think most police officers are good and honorable people who manage to do a difficult, sometimes impossible job. With this in mind, I strongly suspect that if another pair of Cleveland police officers had been at the scene that day I believe the situation would have been resolved without Tamir Rice losing his life.
With that, I hope the family of Tamir Rice finds relief in civil court.
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