Cleveland’s mayor apologized Monday for the city’s “poor use of words and our insensitivity” in the Tamir Rice case.
Mayor Frank Jackson told reporters the city was apologizing to the Rice family and the people of Cleveland for the wording of a legal filing last week, which said the death of Tamir, a 12-year-old who was shot by police in November, was the sixth-grader’s own fault.
“We did something that … is hurtful to the family, that is disrespectful to them and the victim as well as the city of Cleveland,” he said.
The wording in the legal filing, Jackson said, was standard language used in legal defense, and the insensitivity “was not intended.” But now, he said, the city will be rewording its filing — a decision he pushed for as soon as he found out about it.
“What I care about right now is that the family of Tamir Rice and the people of the city of Cleveland understand and realize that we are sorry for what we have done and that we apologize to them,” Jackson said.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Rice family, said the mayor’s apology didn’t go far enough.
“I don’t want him just to apologize for the poor word use and the grammatical phrases,” Crump told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on Monday. “I want him to apologize for the death of this 12-year-old child, one of his citizens, at the hands of what we believe were police officers who were improperly trained.”
Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann fired the fatal shots at Tamir in November within two seconds of arriving outside a recreation center where the 12-year-old was playing with a pellet gun.
“They never even gave him a chance,” Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.” The whole world has seen the same video like I’ve seen, and I’m sure the whole world is saying, ‘You guys never gave him a chance.’ With that being said, it can never be justified.”
Cleveland authorities have repeatedly said that Loehmann mistook Tamir’s fake gun for a real one.
Cuyahoga County’s medical examiner has ruled the death a homicide but has issued no determination as to whether the events that caused the boy’s death constitute a crime.
In its 41-page response to the family’s lawsuit filed Friday, the city says that Tamir’s injuries “were directly and proximately caused by the failure of Plaintiffs’ decedent to exercise due care to avoid injury.” The response further says that “Plaintiffs’ decedent’s injuries, losses, and damages complained of, were directly and proximately caused by the acts of Plaintiffs’ decedent, not this Defendant.”
Another attorney for the Rice family has said the city’s response to the lawsuit last week was indicative of well-documented problems within the Cleveland Police Department.
“The Rice family maintains that Tamir was shot and killed unnecessarily by Cleveland police officers,” Rice family co-counsel Walter Madison said in a statement. “Their tactics that preceded his death and the subsequent victim blaming are examples of the institutionalized behavior that has beset the Cleveland Police Department. The Rice family’s lawsuit seeks to eliminate certain institutional behaviors and practices that have no place in our diverse community.”