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Mother slams Cleveland for blaming boy for his own death

March 4, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) — The mother of a 12-year-old who had a pellet gun when he was fatally shot by Cleveland police said Tuesday that the city was disrespectful of her son by suggesting he died as a result of his own actions.

Tamir Rice was shot in the abdomen by an officer responding to a call about someone with a firearm near a recreation center on Nov. 22. The officer fired within two seconds of the police car stopping nearby, and the confrontation was captured on surveillance video. Tamir had been carrying what turned out to be an airsoft-type gun that shoots non-lethal plastic pellets.

It was one of several police-involved killings around the country that fueled a debate over the relationship between law enforcement and black men and boys.

In court documents filed in response to a lawsuit by the family, the city of Cleveland said Tamir’s injuries and the subsequent complaints for damages stemmed from his actions and failure “to exercise due care to avoid injury.” It similarly said the “injuries, losses and damages” cited for his relatives in the complaint “were directly and proximately caused by their own acts,” not by the city.

Tamir’s mother addressed the city’s response to the lawsuit a day after Mayor Frank Jackson apologized for the wording in the document.

Samaria Rice said she wants an apology for her son’s death. “I have not yet received an apology from the police department or the city of Cleveland in regards to the killing of my son. And it hurts,” she said.

Benjamin Crump, one of the family’s attorneys, said the city law department’s wording was both shocking and disrespectful.

The city plans to alter the wording in the documents, the mayor said. “We are sincerely apologetic for our misuse and mischaracterization of our answer to that complaint,” he said.

Rice family attorney Walter Madison said the city’s response suggests that children should act like and handle all situations like an adult.

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