City of Cleveland to pay $6 million to Tamir Rice's family to settle lawsuit

Cleveland will, contingent on approval from a Cuyahoga County Probate Court judge, pay $6 million to Tamir Rice’s family to settle their federal lawsuit after the boy was killed by a police officer in November 2014:

The settlement, announced Monday, does not resolve all of the lingering legal issues surrounding the 12-year-old’s killing. However, it is a sign that both the city and the boy’s family did not want to endure what could be tension-filled and expensive litigation process that could last years.

The settlement was revealed via a court filing from U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who presided over settlement talks.

Tamir Rice’s estate will receive $5.5 million, Samaria Rice, the boy’s mother, and his sister Tajai Rice will each receive $250,000. Neither the city, officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback nor dispatchers involved will admit to any wrongdoing. The city will pay $3 million this year and $3 million in 2017.

The court filing can be found here.

It’s not enough.

As Mychal Denzel Smith wrote:

Justice for Renisha would have looked like Michael Brown being able to attend college. Justice for Trayvon would have looked like Renisha McBride getting the help she needed the night of her accident. Justice for Oscar Grant would have looked like Trayvon Martin making it home to finish watching the NBA All-Star game, Skittles and iced tea in tow. And so on, and so on. Justice should be the affirmation of our existence.

Real justice will be no more death.

This payment, though well deserved, will not give justice to Tamir’s family. Justice would be his never having been killed by the police, and never having had to live under the threat of such a possibility, in the first place.

But since basic decency doesn’t seem to be enough motivation for American cities to take the necessary steps to ensure there is no more death, perhaps the threat of having to pay out millions of dollars for each death will.

Has the NRA ever commented on this case? The police thought he was an adult with an openly carried gun in an open carry state but shot him for having a gun anyway.

Well said.

Actually, I believe he was shot for pointing it at officers, not merely carrying it. That was the major problem here - the officers had to make a split-second decision on a perceived threat. It had been modified so as to not be easily identifiable as a toy (the orange barrel tip having been removed). Those two factors, far more than anything else, were what led to Mr Rice’s death.

It’s a tragedy all the way aound. A young boy will never become a man; a family will have a hole in their hearts, and the officers involved will bear the burden of knowing they shot someone who ultimately was not a threat.

The other sad thing is the narrative this has generated. One African-American boy shot by a cop, and the media and protest groups go into a frenzy. A dozen African-American boys shot by other African-American boys, only a tagline on the local news.

Well, there’s a few problems.

  1. The officers put themselves in a situation where they needed to make a split second decision by pulling up way too close to Tamir.

  2. The same officers said they did so because there were other people there (i.e., they might be in danger). That wasn’t true.

  3. The shooting officer quit another local police force before he was fired. His supervisor said that no amount of training would fix what was wrong with him.

  4. The driving officer had already cost the city six digits in a case where he assaulted someone during an investigation.

  5. The officers said they had told Tamir to put the gun down three times. When it was determined Tamir was shot less than 1.5 seconds after they got out of the vehicle, the story changed to they instructed him from the car. They couldn’t remember if the windows were down.

  6. The pellet gun was in Tamir’s waistband. There was no way for the officers to know if the orange barrel tip was there or not. Tamir did not pull out the pellet gun before he was shot. The shooting officer claimed he was going for pellet gun. A video of the incident was unclear to me.

  7. Ohio is an open carry state, so the officers had no way of knowing if Tamir was legally allowed to carry the weapon. And, no, the NRA hasn’t commented that I know of.

The factors that led to Tamir’s death were the incompetence of the police officers that responded to the call. That’s why the city just ponied up $6 million.

Then why pay it? Oh, because a big, fat wad of cash without “justice” is always better than no wad of cash at all.

Well, it’s a start; but, you’re right, it doesn’t serve “real justice.” I understand part of the terms of the settlement is that the city claims no wrongdoing in the actions of its police officers. Among the recent spate of dubious shootings of African Americans by police, I find this particular incident the most egregious.

It’s a whole lot cheaper for the city than years of litigation and the larger settlement a jury would likely award.

Exactly. The bird in the hand is much better than the two in the bush. Justice is great but money makes everything ok.

Well, it does seem they think cash is the answer when it comes to grief, loss, discrimination, injuries, etc etc.

I can think of lots of other cases where large sums of money were paid out due to some level of suffering, loss or indiscretion…doesnt really make sense, but I guess thats all they can do.

The recent trend of payout out civil settlements before the investigation has been concluding is very worrying because it has the very likely possibility of depicting the city of admitting fault when the litigation of the justification of the shooting is still be considered.

For example the city of Baltimore payed out a sum when the court cases are still going off to determine if the officers had any fault. This indicates to others that they are guilty before their trial has concluded. The city should wait till the investigation is concluded and any pending legal action has concluded before making any civil settlements.

It should be noted that Michael Brown’s shooting was justified. Sometimes justice is death when it stops someone from killing or maiming someone else. It would be unjust not to stop the assault and in that case the officer had exhausted his means other than deadly force and still not managed to stop Michael Brown from assaulting him. The shooting was ruled justified from a state and federal investigation. The unjust part is that the officer still had to leave a promising career and the means for supporting his family and go into hiding to avoid being killed himself, even though he did his job correctly and is to all extents a hero.

In addition the Oscar Grant shooting was not a case of injustice but a case of accidental death. The officer appeared to have had insufficient training and was convicted of Involuntary manslaughter, which was appropriate. He clearly do not mean to shoot him. This is actually a good example of an officer being held accountable, not of an injustice.

Renisha McBride was either a accidental shooting or unjust shooting, either way the shooter was convicted to prison for the incident. Not a case of Injustice, in fact justice was served.

Trayvon Martin was killed while assaulting George Zimmerman. While there are some extenuating circumstances in that case such as Zimmerman should probably not have been there, he wasn’t doing anything illegal. While Trayvon Martin was illegally assaulting Zimmerman (sitting on top of him beating his face). Again not a case of injustice.

It appears Mr. Mychal Denzel Smith needs to find some better examples of Injustice.

Well, isnt that why settlements and pay offs even happen in the first place?

They are offered when the alleged guilty party does not want to have it drug thru a court hearing, so its easier to just offer a big sum of money to avoid other legal action.

Look at the recent tobacco company settlements, the last one I heard of was a HUGE sum of money, to one family! They avoided a court case and kept their names off the headlines and the possible outcome of the court case…which could have shut down their entire company if the jury felt swayed in that direction.

It happens with lots of companies, city, state, fed governments.

The difference is that one is a civil case and one is a criminal case. They are tried separately for a variety of reasons. In this case they settled the civil case but the criminal case is still pending. The criminal case should be resolved one way or the other before a settlement is reached in the civil case in order to not bias the jury.

Obviously they don’t have to but how does it look to you if were an officer involved in a shooting and did nothing wrong, but the city gave millions of dollars to the family. It would look like they are saying you messed up and its all over the news.

There isn’t a criminal case pending because the prosecutor declined to press charges.

I agree with you, but there is a simple reason for the easy settlement. The politicians and corporate officials settle these cases with other people’s money, not their own. A politician or corporate CEO is more than willing to avoid personal blame by paying with other people’s money. A plaintiff’s lawyer has a huge advantage to collect a 30% or more fee when he knows this going in. The government does the same thing with major corporations and banks.

And the fact that the jury, in a case as ridiculous as this one, might just find in favor of the plaintiff for much, much more.

Shame the officers get off scot-free.

Well at least one of them lost their job (not sure about the other one) and both have to live with the situation. Studies indicate the officers involved in even the most clear cut shooting usually suffer severe mental anguish and usually leave law enforcement.

“Two independent conclusions about the use of force were submitted to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office by outside experts, one by retired FBI agent Kimberly Crawford, a second by Colorado prosecutor S. Lamar Sims. Both reported that the shooting of Tamir Rice was reasonable under the circumstances”.

So it is hardly clear cut. The local authorities declined to prosecute and that is their right as the lawful authorities. The rest lies in God’s hands.

The officers should feel mental anguish and they should not be anywhere near law enforcement jobs.

Yes, there were reports in the Cleveland media about how biased the ‘outside experts’ were within a few days of their conclusions coming out.

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor got voted out of office in March, so I think a great deal of area people also saw him as butchering the case and thought it was pretty clear-cut.

Following news of the $6 million settlement, the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association released a horrendous statement, which reads:


We have maintained from the onset this has been an absolute tragedy for the Rice family as well as our involved Officers and their families. Our hearts continue to be with them.

We can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms. Something positive must come from this tragic loss. That would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm.

We look forward to the possibility of working with the Rice family to achieve this common goal.

Stephen Loomis

By way of reminder, Ohio is an open carry state. Also by way of reminder, Tamir was fatally shot within two seconds of the officers arriving on scene, having made zero effort to establish his age, whether he was licensed for open carry, or whether the gun was even real.

And then to have the temerity to tell Tamir’s family how to spend their settlement and say it’s somehow their responsibility to educate the citizens of Cleveland about gun safety? Loomis. Has. No. Shame.

If there’s anyone who needs further education, it isn’t the youth of Cleveland (by which he means Black kids), it’s the Cleveland police.

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