Government to Black Children: It’s Okay for the Police to Murder You

The boy lived in New York City,
They chased the boy right through the park
In a case of mistaken identity
They put a bullet through his heart

Heartbreakers, with your forty four,
I wanna tear your world apart,
Heartbreakers, with your forty four,
I’m gonna tear that world apart”

– Mick Jagger, “Heartbreaker“, released August 1973

Last year, on the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, Tamir Rice, a 12 year old African American boy, was shot down in cold blooded murder by police in Cleveland, Ohio.

The boy had been reported by an onlooker as carrying a pistol, but the caller reporting it said it might be a fake pistol and the person carrying it might be a juvenile.  Much of this was not reported to police, who believed they were looking for an adult male carrying a dangerous weapon.

Still, as film of the shooting shows, no attempt was made to ask the boy to drop the perceived weapon and no warning was given.  Immediately as the police car pulled up to where the boy was standing, Officer Timothy Loehmann fired the fatal shot at him.

Although Tamir didn’t die until the next day, the two police officers on the scene did not administer first aid, for more than four minutes, when other FBI and police arrived on the scene.

Mother Jones reported, “It remains unclear why, in the minutes after both Rice and his sister lay on the ground, the officers did not tend to Rice. According to [Seth] Stoughton—who previously served as a police officer himself for five years—a fundamental principle of policing is that once a threat has been eliminated and a scene secured, an officer’s first priority is to aid an injured person. ‘At that point, the officer and his medical kit might be the only thing between the suspect and death,’ he says.”

Unless, of course, the two police officers wanted the primary material witness, Tamir, to die, after they realized they had shot a 12 year old toting a toy gun.

After the shooting, it was reported that Loehmann, in his previous job as a policeman in Independence, Ohio, had been deemed an emotionally unstable recruit and unfit for duty.  His partner, driving the car, Officer Frank Garmback, previously had charges brought against him for excessive force, settled out of court for $100,000 by the City of Cleveland.

The two police officers apparently made up a story about how they gave three warnings of “Show your hands” before shooting Tamir.  Independent witnesses say no warning was given.

According to Judge Ronald B. Adrine in a judgment entry on the case “this court is still thunderstruck by how quickly this event turned deadly…. On the video the zone car containing Patrol Officers Loehmann and Garmback is still in the process of stopping when Rice is shot.”  So it doesn’t seem possible any warnings could have been given.

Tamir’s 14 year old sister Tajai made an attempt to reach her brother two minutes after he had been shot, but police wrestled her to the ground, handcuffed her and put her in a patrol car – a thing which seems to have been more important to them than administering first aid to the boy.  Perhaps she could have pressed her hand against the wound and at least stopped the bleeding.

Tajai said that officers forced her to watch her brother die after they shot him and handcuffed her and locked her in a police car so that she could see her younger brother lie bleeding from 10 feet away but do nothing about it.

Tamir’s mom said police threatened her with arrest if she didn’t calm down after she was told of the shooting of her son.  Imagine how terrified this woman must have been and how much she must have been in need of understanding.

Video evidence clearly shows that the police were lying about the sequence of events leading to the murder of Tamir.

They said Tamir was sitting with others, the video shows he was alone.

Police said Tamir reached into his waistband and pulled out the toy gun, and was then shot by Loehmann. The video shows that Tamir did not pull out the toy gun. In the video, Tamir, who must have been shaking with fear, is using both hands to hold his shirt up and expose the pellet gun to view just before he falls to the ground, mortally wounded.

Not so astonishingly, for those aware that so many innocent Black kids have been gunned down by police, the establishment has gone into deep cover-up mode, as NBC News reports: “The Ohio prosecutor gathering evidence in the fatal police shooting of Tamir Rice released two reports Saturday that conclude the officer was justified in shooting the 12-year-old.”

CNN dusted off former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, one of their regular commentators, to review this and explain Saturday how shooting the 12 year old appears to him to have been justified.  A cop could gun down an elementary school full of Black children and Fuentes would notice nothing amiss if cops told him they’d been threatened by the children.  He is the perfect guy for corporate media commentary.

Subodh Chandra, a lawyer for the Rice family, responded, “To get so-called experts to assist in the whitewash — when the world has the video of what happened — is all the more alarming.”

Then Chandra asked “Who will speak for Tamir before the grand jury? Not the prosecutor, apparently.”

It is too late for the Rice family, but it is never too late to seek justice for children like Tamir, so casually gunned down by an establishment which allows such horror to continue through lies and cover-ups. The public need to get involved– write letters to officials, demand action, and support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Jack Balkwill is an activist in Virginia. He can be reached at Read other articles by Jack.