Monday, December 14, 2015

230.5 - Outrage of the Week: Prosecutors trying to let cop killer of Tamir Rice walk

Outrage of the Week: Prosecutors trying to let cop killer of Tamir Rice walk

Now, still in a very real way on the topic of guns, we have our other regular feature, this is the Outrage of the Week.

Tamir Rice, I hope you recall, was the child shot and killed by Cleveland cop Timothy Loehmann in November 2014. The video of the event, which I'm sure you've seen, shows Loehmann and partner Frank Garmback skidding up to Tamir in their patrol car, at which point Loehmann jumps out and shoots Tamir in the stomach. Total elapsed time: two seconds. Literally.

The two cops then stood around, offering no aid, as Tamir Rice lay on the ground bleeding.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office has claimed that it is and has been "investigating" the murder, but it has become more than clear that what they are really trying to do is to find a way to justify letting Loehmann walk.

The first hard proof was the so-called "investigation" itself, dragged out month after month with no progress even after a judge found that there was probable cause for charges. As columnist Shaun King wrote,
nobody in their right mind actually believes it takes this long to investigate a shooting which was caught on film and every piece of evidence and every witness is widely known.
Tamir Rice
More proof came in October when prosecutors released statements from two ostensible experts on police shootings, both of who let Loehmann off the hook by saying the shooting was "reasonable" because the only thing that mattered, they said, the only thing that mattered, was if the cop thought - just thought - there was a threat and Loehman did think there was a threat, a conclusion which they reached without ever talking to Loehmann or Garmback.

To show just how shallow their analysis was, other experts hired by the Rice family not only came to the opposite conclusion, they shredded a key argument of the prosecutor's two agents. They had claimed that the fact that the cops put themselves in danger by their reckless approach to Tamir, that the cops by their recklessness had created the very "risk" they claimed they thought they faced, well, these "experts" insisted that was irrelevant.

But in fact, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Ohio, had previously ruled that
Where a police officer unreasonably places himself in harm's way, his use of deadly force may be deemed excessive.
The cops' behavior was relevant to whether or not the shooting was "reasonable" and the prosecutor's hand-picked "experts" didn't know what they were talking about.

It will be interesting to see which expert testimony is presented to the grand jury.

And now, which is what brought all this up again, we have the release of the statements by the cops themselves, both of them - no surprise - emphasizing how much danger they thought they were in, how Tamir was pulling the gun out of his waistband, how they repeatedly shouted "show us your hands" but he didn't listen, and how, Loehmann said, he aimed for Tamir's hand (but somehow, despite being at virtually point-blank range, managed instead to hit Tamir in the stomach) and how and how and how and so forth and so on.

Leaving aside the question of how they could have "repeatedly" shouted anything in two seconds, what most struck me was the fact that the statements were unsworn and, more significantly, were signed and dated November 30, 2015 - more than a full year after Tamir Rice was shot. It took prosecutors more than a year to even get a statement from the cop who pulled the trigger and his partner, who was the only other witness.

If what prosecutors have done so far adds up to anything that sounds like a serious investigation to you, if it sounds like anything other than a whitewash to you, if it sounds like anything other than trying to lay the groundwork for letting a killer cop walk, then this must be a very happy time of year for you, because you must still believe in Santa Claus.

Me, I don't believe in Santa Claus except maybe for the Santa Claus that the Cuyahoga County prosecutors are trying to be for Timothy Loehmann. What I do believe is that this is an outrage.

Sources cited in links:

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