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Tamir Rice’s Mother: I Want A Better Apology

Samaria Rice (center) speaking at a previous press conference about the police shooting of her 12-year-old son, Tamir Rice. Attorney Benjamin Crump is on the right.
Nick Castele

After widespread criticism, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson apologized Monday for language in a city court filing saying 12-year-old Tamir Rice was responsible for his own shooting death by police. Speaking at Cleveland’s Olivet Institutional Baptist Church Tuesday, Rice’s family called the incident part of a pattern of disrespect

Tamir Rice’s family members and their attorneys repeated their criticism of the city for the boy’s death, for the city’s reaction to it, and most recently, for the legal language they called “insulting.”

Despite Mayor Jackson’s efforts, Tamir Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, said she wants a broader apology.

“I have yet not received an apology from the police department or the city of Cleveland in regards to the killing of my son,” she said. “And it hurts.”

The family’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said it was absurd to blame a sixth-grader for his own death. He said Rice was clearly not responsible for many factors involved in his death, including the poor performance record of the officer who shot him, Timothy Loehmann.

“It was not Tamir’s fault that Mr. Loehmann was hired. It was not Tamir’s fault that there was no amount of time nor training capable of correcting his insubordination, his inability to follow rules,” said Crump.

The attorneys played the surveillance video of the shooting, aligned with a stopwatch. Their timing showed Loehmann shot Rice less than a second after the police cruiser stopped in front of him. The attorneys said it was, quote, “impossible” that Rice got three verbal warnings in advance, as police have claimed.

Joanna Richards came to the Innovation Trail from Louisville, Kentucky, where she worked as an assistant editor for the NPR series This I Believe and as a staff writer for local arts and entertainment weekly Velocity.