The latest updates in the tragic case of Tamir Rice — and why it matters

On Friday, the Cuyahoga County medical examiner’s office ruled Tamir Rice’s death a homicide. To back track a little on the origins of this story: On Nov. 22, 12-year-old Tamir was playing in a park near his home with a toy pistol lent to him by a friend. The gun (which looked rather real) alarmed a passerby who called 911. (The 911 tape later reveals that the witness told the dispatcher the gun was “probably fake.”)

Police officers arrived at the scene, and within two seconds of exiting their squad car shot Tamir, resulting in injuries that would kill him the next day. Video footage shows that Rice didn’t even attempt to raise the pellet gun to the officer who killed him, Timothy Loehman.

As the nation deals with the fallout from the deaths of two unarmed black men, Eric Garner and Michael Brown, at the hands of police officers, Tamir’s is an equally relevant story. The ruling of Tamir’s death as a homicide is in keeping with what happened after the death of Eric Garner (whose death was also ruled a homicide, though there was no indictment for the policeman who killed Garner).

Tamir’s senseless killing is yet another terrible example of a crisis ongoing and the homicide ruling is just the latest in an ongoing story. Tamir’s story mustn’t be forgotten and with every new detail revealed the terrifying situation gets even more grim. Here are a few key facts to know and to consider.

The police officer who killed Rice was previously deemed unfit for service

According to The Guardian,

Loehmann is now on administrative leave.

Officers also arrested Rice’s 14-year-old sister

According to the New York Times, officers also tackled and handcuffed Rice’s 14-year-old sister who rushed to Tamir’s side after the shooting. The officers repeatedly told her to “calm down.”

This is how authorities treated Rice’s mother

The way Rice’s mother heard about her son’s death was from two neighborhood kids. “Two little boys came and knocked on my door and said, ‘Police officers just shot your son twice in the stomach,’” she told CNN. “I really thought they was playing, like joking around, but I saw the seriousness in their face, and it scared me.”

Rice’s mother found that her daughter was arrested and her son was in the hospital. Authorities told her that they wouldn’t release her daughter, requiring her to choose between taking care of her daughter in jail or her son in the hospital. Rice says that they also threatened to arrest her if she didn’t calm down. They also wouldn’t allow her to ride in the back of the ambulance with her son. Instead, she rode in the passenger seat.

Rice’s mother is suing the city

“The treatment of the family is unacceptable,” Cleveland Councilman Jeffrey Johnson, said in a news conference. “It just shows the lack of training when we shackle a grieving sister, threaten a grieving mother and not even take care of a child lying on the ground.” Rice’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, noting that “the police harass the community.”

Tamir’s story is terrible, but ignorance would be even worse. We must know these stories, tell them, and share them so that we can continue fighting for a country where things like this never happen again.

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