Saturday, March 07, 2015

194.2 - Outrage of the Week: Cleveland's response to the Tamir Rice suit

Outrage of the Week: Cleveland's response to the Tamir Rice suit

Now for one of our regular features, the Outrage of the Week, one in this case that leaves me seething with fury at the inhumanly cold response to a tragedy we are seeing from the city of Cleveland, Ohio.

It has to do with the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland cops on November 22, 2014, another in a string of incidents of police shooting unarmed African-Americans.

To understand my outrage, you have to understand some background so forgive me for going over ground you may know.

First, in the wake of the killing, Cleveland police put out their version of events, one which was riddled with demonstrable lies - because, unfortunately for them, they didn't know there was a surveillance video.

The cops claimed Tamir Rice was seated at a table with other people. The video clearly shows that he was alone.

They said that as they pulled up, they saw him grab the gun and put it in his waistband. The video shows that he was standing as they pulled up and there was nowhere he could have "grabbed the gun" from.

They said they got out of the car and told him three times to put his hands up but he refused. The video of the killing with a stopwatch added proved that Tamir was shot literally less than 0.8 seconds after the cops pulled up. Claiming the cops had time to tell him anything three times is lunacy.

They also said that the boy then reached into his waistband and pulled out the gun, forcing cop Timothy Loehmann to kill him. The video proves that he did not pull out any gun.

The "gun," by the way, was a toy air pistol. The police made much of the fact that the bright orange tip intented to identify it as a toy had been removed - but since the cops never saw the tip until after Tamir Rice lay on the ground dying because he never pulled it out, that is an utter irrelevancy intended to distract from the hard facts: The cops drove up, hopped out, and shot Tamir Rice down without hesitation or giving him any chance at all to comply with demands. They then failed to offer him any first aid but did tackle and handcuff his sister when she came screaming, trying to reach her little brother who was bleeding to death.

One other by the way, apparently failing to find anything about Tamir Rice the cops could use for the typical after-the-fact trashing of the victim's reputation, Cleveland authorities resorted to trying to trash the reputation of his parents, who each had had some legal issues.

Okay, that's the background, one marked by lies, misdirection, shifting stories, and character assassination. All of which is not surprising in a police department recently found by the DOJ to be "reckless" and to use use guns, Tasers, pepper spray and their fists excessively, unnecessarily or in retaliation at a "significant rate" to the point where a federal court will now keep tabs on the department.

Which in turn brings us to the current outrage.

We're going to skip the latest brain-dead racist frothings of Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association president Steve Loomis, who recently described Tamir Rice as a boy "in an adult body" and called him "menacing. ... 5-feet-7, 191 pounds" and one of "those people," apparently because anyone 5-7 is "menacing" even though that's below average height for an adult male - or more exactly, they are "menacing" if they are African-American.

But leave him aside so he can go wash his white hood before the next meeting. What I wanted more to address is that on December 5, Tamir Rice's family filed a wrongful death against Loehmann, his partner Frank Garmback, and the city of Cleveland.

The city of Cleveland has now filed its response to the family's suit. As I'm sure you would expect, it denies as many points as it can and declares it doesn't know enough to answer one way or another on a lot of others. But in the course of its response, a certain bit of wording comes up repeatedly. The city said that, quoting,
in light of the fact that the circumstances of this incident will not be known until the completion of the investigation by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, this Defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief
regarding a particular assertion in the family's suit. That wording was used 111 times and yes I counted, 111 times in the course of this brief. "There's an investigation going on. We don't know yet what happened. We'll have to wait to see what that says."

After all that, in asserting it's own "affirmative defenses," the city says that, quoting,
Plaintiffs’ decedent’s injuries, losses, and damages complained of, were directly and proximately caused by the failure of Plaintiffs’ decedent to exercise due care to avoid injury [and]

Plaintiffs’ decedent’s injuries, losses, and damages complained of, were directly and proximately caused by the acts of Plaintiffs’ decedent, not this Defendant.
Translated from the legalese, the city of Cleveland is saying it was Tamir Rice's own fault that a trigger-happy cop shot him down and left him on the ground bleeding to death. It was his own fault that he's dead. Nothing to do with us, no siree.

I know all about using boilerplate language and all about how you want to assert every defense at the start because if you don't you may not be able to bring one of them up later.

Last photo of Tamir Rice
But to assert 111 times that what happened won't be known until the investigation is complete and then to immediately say you do know what happened and it was all the victim's fault, proves that the city has one and only one concern and it's not justice or fairness or even simple decency or even the desire or intention to try to prevent such a thing from happening again, but the one solitary concern is getting off the hook. Having no responsibility. Being able to look at the mother of a dead 12-year-old that one of your employees killed and go "hey, whatever."

I don't even know how to express the depth of  the outrage involved. According to Tamir's mother, the city has never even told her through any official that they're sorry it happened. And how can you do that? How could an administration be that cold? It's an outrage.

Sources cited in links:

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');