Uncle of boy, 12, shot by officer calls for change
CLEVELAND (AP) — The uncle of a 12-year-old boy who had a pellet gun when he was shot by a police officer told mourners at a memorial service Wednesday that they must be advocates for change through peaceful protest and civil disobedience.
Tamir Rice’s uncle also said that police need to revamp how they train officers while also looking closer at police brutality and the use of excessive force.
Surveillance video released by police shows Tamir being shot within 2 seconds of a patrol car stopping near him at a park on Nov. 22. It shows the boy reaching in his waistband for what police discovered was an airsoft gun, which shoots non-lethal plastic projectiles. He died the next day.
Police said rookie officer Tim Loehmann believed the boy had a real firearm.
The black youth’s death is the latest to raise questions about how law enforcement officers treat African-Americans. It comes amid tensions in Missouri over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed. In another case, a New York City grand jury on Tuesday cleared a white police officer in the videotaped chokehold death of another unarmed black man, Eric Garner.
Loehmann joined Cleveland police in March after spending six months in 2012 with the police department in suburban Independence.
Personnel files released Wednesday showed police supervisors in Independence decided he lacked the maturity needed to work in their department. A letter in his file said there was a pattern of a lack of discretion and of not following instructions.
Loehmann resigned from the Independence police department in December 2012 after meeting his supervisors about their concerns.
A grand jury will consider whether charges are merited.
Several hundred people attended the memorial service for Tamir at Mount Sinai Baptist Church.
Family members and friends, some wearing shirts with Tamir’s picture, filed past displays of photos at the front of the church and stopped to hug his mother.
One of his former teachers said Tamir liked to draw, play basketball and the drums.
Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com