One officer said he thought he was going to die. The other said he didn’t know it was a kid. Both are two cops who have been part of the focus of frustration with police shootings of African-Americans.
But now that internal investigation videos of the testimonies of Cleveland police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback have been released, there will likely be more questions regarding the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
The video, released by Rice family lawyer Subodh Chandra, describes what happened at a Cleveland park on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2014. It shows the officers’ emotional testimony about the events of that day and their description to their superiors of how Rice died.
In Loehmann’s account, he says he and he and Garmback were called to the scene after leaving a previous call at a nearby church. He said as they approached the scene in their squad car, they spotted a Black male fitting the description of the person the caller said was brandishing a weapon. He said he ordered Rice to raise his hands, who instead reached toward his waist.
“So, I opened the door slightly ajar and I had presented my weapon. I started screaming verbal commands. ‘Put your hands in the air! Put your hands in the air! Let me see your hands! Freeze! Put your hands in the air!’ I said it numerous times, loud. I presented my gun through the window.” He said that Rice seemed to be turning to leave the site, and he tried to exit the vehicle as the car slows, but by this time he spots a gun in Rice’s waistband, which he is raising and he fires two shots. It turns out to be a model pistol, not a real weapon.
In Garmback’s account, he also says Rice was ordered to stop and show his hands, but did not comply and instead reached toward his waistband.
“I can see through here, the kid reaching, pulling…” Garmback recounted as he appeared to tear up. “I didn’t know it was a kid. I could see him pulling the gun out of his waistband. I don’t know if I was in or out of the car. I can still see him through the window and I hear shots.”
While Rice was lying on the ground, he was still being ordered to show his hands to the officers, but again reached for his waist, but this time only to raise his shirt, revealing a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Garmback then holstered his weapon. Rice’s sister came to the scene screaming frantically, “You shot my brother!” But she was placed in handcuffs and put in the squad car. Another officer and an FBI agent arrived at the scene and waited for the EMS. Rice never spoke a word. He died the next day.
A grand jury declined to indict Loehmann and Garmback on criminal charges in late 2015. The City of Cleveland settled a lawsuit with Rice’s family for $6 million on April 25, 2016.