If We Don’t Get the Results We Want . . .
Oct. 13, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
The death of Tamir Rice, while tragic, was not murder, and was not the fault of the rookie police officer, Timothy Loehmann.
You have a young, 12-year-old kid, who is 5’ 7” and about 190 pounds, and appears to be much older. Remember, the average height for a 12-year-old is 4’ 10” and the average weight is 88 pounds. Several witnesses said that they thought Rice was a young adult.
You have what appears to be a real gun at the distance of a few feet, when you are on a call about a man with a gun. It doesn’t matter that the caller told the 911 operator that it may be a kid, because that information was not relayed to the officers. We don’t judge people on what they could have known, we judge people on what they did know, and Loehmann was not informed that it could be a toy gun.
So Loehmann did what any other police officer would do in that situation, he shot what appeared to be a 20-year-old man with a gun in his waistband. In that situation, I don’t know of any police officer who would not have done the same. I would have done it. Hell, when I first started in police work, I tried to draw my revolver and shoot an individual about 20 feet in front of me. I wasn’t fast enough, and it was a good thing, because the black pistol grip that the individual had grabbed was attached to a hacksaw.
Had I been faster, I would have shot him, multiple times. There was no question in my mind when I started to draw that he had a pistol and he was going to try to kill both me and my partner. We were both lucky that night. Loehmann was in the same position, only he and Rice were not as lucky.
But we don’t just take the first impression when the police shoot someone, we investigate it. Nowadays, we try to go outside the department to find people to conduct that investigation.
Now you have two reports prepared for Cleveland that bear out the position I’ve been saying all along. Both reports were prepared by outside investigators. One is a retired agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the other is the chief deputy district attorney in Denver, Colorado. Neither are paid shills for the department or the city.
Nor was the outcome of their investigation a foregone conclusion, but was dependent on the facts. Neither investigator had ties to Cleveland, but since both were involved in law enforcement, they are now “insiders.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you are going to investigate bank fraud, you use forensic accounts and auditors, people who know how the banking system works. If you are going to investigate medical malpractice, you use people who know medicine. If you are going to investigate attorneys for professional misconduct, you use lawyers.
The common thread is that you use people who know how to conduct an investigation of the type required. There is no question that retired FBI agent Kimberly Crawford or that DDA Lamar Sims know how to conduct that type of investigation. Crawford is white, Sims is black. Both have impeccable credentials.
In both reports, the investigators followed the law. You don’t get to Monday morning quarterback, you look at the facts that the officer at the scene had at the time. And the facts point to the conclusion that Loehmann made a reasonable decision, with the information that he had and the time and space that he had to operate with.
Had I shot that guy with the hacksaw, I would have been justified in doing so—it appeared to me at the time that he was drawing a handgun, presumably to kill me and my partner. Loehmann was justified in shooting Rice—it appeared to him at the time that he was drawing a handgun, presumably to kill Loehmann and his partner.
That’s what it boils down to. Facts, as they appeared to the individual at the scene, at the time of the incident.
The death of Rice was a tragedy. I cannot image the pain that the family is going through.
It was not, however, a crime.