Shooting of Tamir Rice 'Objectively Reasonable,' New Report Finds

tamirrice
A mourner looks at a program during the funeral service for Tamir Rice in Cleveland on December 3, 2014. Rice had an Airsoft-type replica gun that resembles a semi-automatic pistol and was fatally shot by a patrol officer after a 911 call reported someone pointing a gun at people at the Cudell Recreation Center. Aaron Jozefczyk/Reuters

The November 2014 shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer was deemed "objectively reasonable" Thursday afternoon, in the third report on the incident to be released by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor.

The latest report was carried out by W. Ken Katsaris, a certified Florida law-enforcement officer, instructor and consultant in law enforcement with more than 30 years of experience.

Rice was killed by officer Timothy Loehmann on November 22, 2014, while playing with a fake gun in a Cleveland park. His death set off national outrage, yet neither of the officers involved has been charged in the shooting.

Along with the latest report, the prosecutor released a second video of Rice's killing, this one from a security camera located outside the Cudell Recreation Center building, which is directly across from the gazebo where Rice's shooting death took place.

Katsaris reviewed the 911 call that brought authorities to the park, the information provided by the dispatcher, the response of the officers when they arrived and the shooting itself.

According to Katsaris's report, a man sitting in the park called 911 and said, "There's a guy with a pistol. It's probably fake, but he's pointing it at everybody." The 911 caller, who has not been identified, twice more went on to reiterate that the gun was likely fake, and described Rice as "probably a juvenile."

The 911 dispatcher declined to tell Loehmann and the other responding officer, Frank Garmback, that the gun was likely fake. "There's a black male sitting on a swing. He's wearing a camouflage hat, a gray jacket with black sleeves. He keeps pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it at people." The dispatcher assigned the incident a code 1, the highest-priority emergency for police.

"I render the opinion that the call taker did gather sufficient information from [the 911 caller] and handled the call appropriately," Katsaris wrote. "It is my opinion however, that the dispatcher should have provided additional information....That information would have included the specific information that the 'guy with the gun' is 'probably a juvenile,' and that [the 911 caller] indicated that, while the firearm was described as 'probably a fake,' he also clearly reported 'I don't know if it's real or not.'"

Despite saying the dispatcher should have relayed this information to the responding officers, later in his report Katsaris said it was irrelevant.

"Even if the officers were told the 911 caller said 'it's possibly fake,' the officers would also have been told the 911 caller reported 'I don't know if it's real or not.' The gun experience of the caller is an unknown, but we do know the caller still reported 'it's scaring the shit out of me,' indicating he had a reasonable belief the gun was real," the expert wrote.

The 911 dispatcher, Beth Mandl, resigned in July.

After observing surveillance video of the shooting, Katsaris determined Loehmann had "only one split second" to make a decision, and had identified Rice was a threat because he moved toward the waist, where the dispatcher said he kept the gun. Loehmann's decision to shoot Rice was, in Katsaris's opinion, "clearly objectively reasonable, given the totality of the circumstances."

"The reported criminal activity—'pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it at people,' and the actions of Tamir Rice lifting his jacket and reaching for his waist, was not only consistent with the reported, and dispatched, criminal information, but also reflects an immediate threat of death or serious injury to either or both of the responding officers," Katsaris wrote. "It is simply obvious that the officers had a reasonable belief that Rice was armed."

In his concluding statements, Katsaris said that despite the tragic loss of life, "labeling the officers' conduct as anything but objectively reasonable would also be a tragedy, albeit not carrying with it the consequences of the loss of life, only the possibility of loss of career."

This is the third report released by prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty's office in regard to Rice's shooting. An attorney for Rice's mother offered this statement to Cleveland.com:

With this report's release, the prosecutor continues blindsiding the Rice family to deflect from his recent insult of Ms. Rice and from [his] own odd conduct of the matter. He failed to share with the family the report from this longtime police-affiliated individual, or seek constructive comment.

It assumes non-existent facts—like what the officers were thinking when the officers have not testified, and ignores other critical facts—including the fact the officers rushed up and Officer Loehmann fired immediately, the fact that Ohio is an open-carry state, and that the officers left a 12-year-old boy bleeding and dying on the ground without administering first aid.

In his statement about this report, McGinty said none of the reports have been conclusive and instead are all "simply pieces of a complex puzzle." He added: "The gathering of evidence continues and the Grand Jury will evaluate it all."

Katsaris Report on Tamir Rice: Redacted

Shooting of Tamir Rice 'Objectively Reasonable,' New Report Finds | U.S.