A Cleveland emergency dispatcher whose taking of a 911 call led to the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice was suspended for eight days without pay for not indicating that he was a juvenile.
In a disciplinary letter dated March 10, Police Chief Calvin Williams found that Constance Hollinger did not follow proper protocols when she dispatched officers to the park where Rice was playing with a pellet gun, the Associated Press reported. Rice was shot within seconds of a police cruiser skidding to a stop just a few feet away from him in November 2014 outside of Cleveland recreational center.
The city charged Hollinger with failing to tell the dispatcher who sent the officers to the rec center that the man who called 911 about “a guy” pointing a gun at people also said it could be a juvenile and the gun might be a “fake.”
That omission was cited by former Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty as a crucial mistake that impacted how officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback responded. Loehmann shot and killed Rice less than two seconds after they arrived.
McGinty said the shooting might have been avoided if the information from the 911 caller had been properly relayed to the officers.
The boy’s mother, Samaria Rice expressed frustration over what she feels is inadequate discipline for the dispatcher. “Eight days for gross negligence resulting in the death of a 12-year-old boy,” said Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra said in a statement. “How pathetic is that?
“That the dispatcher still has her job when a child is dead speaks volumes about accountability in Cleveland,” he said.
Disciplinary action is pending for Loehmann, who drove up to the spot Rice was, and Garmback who fatally shot him, and could result in their dismissal from the Cleveland Police Department. An Ohio grand jury decided in 2015 not to indict the two officers on criminal charges connected to Rice’s death.
A message left by the Associated Press seeking comment on behalf of Hollinger and Cunningham was left for the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association.
The city agreed last April to pay Rice’s family $6 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit.
— With reporting by AP