Sunday, October 11, 2015

Outside reviews conclude Tamir Rice shooting justified

Last year, Cleveland police officer Tim Loehmann shot and killed 12 year old Tamir Rice as Loehmann mistook Rice's fake gun for a real one. This incident sparked much outrage as many people assumed that the shooting was racially motivated as Loehmann is white and Rice was black.

The reports released on Saturday by a Colorado prosecurtor and a former FBI special agent claim that Loehmann was "reasonable" when he shot and killed the 12 year old child. Loehmann did not know that Rice's realistic gun was fake and did not have enough information to act accordingly. Although the 911 caller did state that the gun was likely fake, Loehmann was never told this crucial piece of information.

However, although these reports say Loehmann acted reasonably, there is still a lot of evidence that states his actions were unreasonable. Some say that Loehmann acted too quickly. He did not asses the situation well enough to realize that there was no threat to anyone's life. He rushed to shooting when he should have been more careful. Some even claim that the reports are trying to shield police and are not as unbiased as they claim.

These investigations do not clear Loehmann of his mistake. Although there still needs to be a grand jury hearing, some believe it is highly unlikely that Loehmann will be indicted as no arrests or charges were ever placed on Loehmann, and these reports state that he acted reasonably.

I think that there is definitely enough evidence for Loehmann to be put on trial. I do not know if he should be convicted for his mistake, but there is enough evidence on both sides for the decision to be questionable and warrant such a trial. These reports are slightly biased as both reports were commissioned by people who have some connection to the U.S. government and therefore want to make it look better.

What do you think about these reports? Do you think that Loehmann will be indicted for the shooting? Do you think he should be? What should change to prevent shootings like this from happening in the future?



Annika Olives said...

I agree with you, Jack, in that there should be a trial. Even if the officer was "reasonable" in shooting, that still doesn't make it right, and there is way too much disagreement on both sides to simply let the officer go without any consequences. This just sets a precedent that this type of behavior is justified.

With the question of race, I don't know if this situation would change if the child was white. Listening to the 911 call, (you can listen to it in the link below), the dispatcher asked, "Is he black or white?" multiple times instead of something more general like "What race is he?" I don't know how many Asian people there are in Ohio, but creating the distinction just between black and white struck me as off. The officers also did not know that the boy with a gun was a kid and that the gun was "probably fake," like you said, so maybe the dispatcher is also to blame.


Eric Chen 1 said...

A trial is definitely deserved here, given the fact that a child was killed and the media attention to the case. Reports and information here are honestly somewhat hard for me to trust. When these cases crop up, its honestly pretty rare for officers to suffer serious consequences. Given what we are told though, I think that the shooting is fairly reasonable, if not rather tragic. The lack of information given to the officers is disconcerting - the dispatchers are definitely at fault here as well. I feel that the officers may have been too quick to shoot to kill, but the danger of being shot in return and a lack of other options makes it understandable. In these sort of tragedies, everyone involved is usually at fault in some way. But the cases in which everyone acts with a little more prudence, where these tragedies are prevented, are never reported. Police shootings still happen more often than they should, but the nature of media perhaps warps our perception of the police.

On the question of race, I agree with Annika. Given that the person shot is a kid, I don't really think his race mattered. The dispatcher's question is somewhat strange though.

Olivia Fong said...

I agree with Annika that if a trial was not held for Loehmann, this incident would provide justified precedence for other similar behavior. However, on the flip side of things, this trial may also cause law enforcement officers to question their authority while on duty. Instead of officers taking action to protect their own lives and the lives of nearby civilians, they may not instinctively take action, questioning whether these actions will be justified in a court of law. This split second of questioning their authority and actions may be the difference between life and death. Thus, officers need to be confident in their abilities and duties as first responders in order to take the right course of action; these media-crazed tragedies have only made murky situations even harder to find a solution that will be justified in legal, moral and ethical terms.

I know this may seem cruel to think, but maybe we should not blame Loehmann without considering how Rice's actions led to this situation as well. After all, he was the one carrying a fake weapon that looked like a real gun and according to Loehmann and his partner, he seemed to be reaching for his "weapon." If the two police officers did not see Rice reaching for his gun, the situation at hand may have been different, but as I see it, the two officers were simply protecting themselves before further harm could be accomplished by Rice. In this case, the tragedy paradoxically comes back to the gun control issue, not just of guns but also of fake guns. Should children be able to carry fake guns that closely resemble real ones? Who is to blame when the children get hurt, police officers for shooting the child or the parents of the child for letting the child carry a fake gun in the first place?