Cleveland Cops 'Recklessly' Shot Boy, 12, Over Toy Gun, Suit Claims

Tamir Rice's family have filed a wrongful death and civil rights suit.

ByABC News
December 5, 2014, 5:55 PM

— -- The family of a 12-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer over a toy gun have filed a federal lawsuit claiming the officers "recklessly" shot the boy and then failed to give him immediate medical care.

The civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit was filed by an administrator for the estate of the boy, Tamir Rice.

Officer Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shots, Loehmann's partner Officer Frank Garmback and the City of Cleveland are all named as defendants in the suit.

The suit accuses Loehmann and Garmback of acting "unreasonably, negligently, recklessly, wantonly, willfully, knowingly, intentionally, and with deliberate indifference to the safety and rights of Tamir Rice."

It also accuses the officers of failing "to secure timely medical assistance." Surveillance video of the incident shows that Rice wasn’t given first aid by the officers until a medically-trained FBI agent arrived on the scene.

The suit does not specify how much money Rice’s relatives are asking for in compensation and damages but ask that the issue be brought before a jury.

The lawsuit also attacks the policies of the City of Cleveland as a whole.

"Defendant City of Cleveland has a policy, practice and custom of using excessive force on African American citizens and that policy practice and custom was the moving force behind the excessive force used on Tamir Rice and proximately caused his suffering and death," the suit states.

A U.S. Department of Justice settlement with Cleveland earlier this week concluded that the city's police department was poorly trained in the use of force and in need of sweeping reforms.

Surveillance footage from the Nov. 22 shooting shows that the boy was shot within two seconds of the police patrol car arriving at the scene, near a recreational center.

"Defendants Loehmann and Garmback confronted him in a surprise fashion and fired multiple shots at him without any adequate investigation," the lawsuit states. "Four minutes passed without any medical care being provided to Tamir, who lay on the ground alive."

The police were responding to a call from someone who said that there was an individual waving what appeared to be a gun at the playground. While the 911 caller mentioned the gun could be fake and that the individual may be a juvenile, that information was not communicated to the responding officers.

The Cleveland police department has said that Rice was reaching in his waistband for what appeared to be gun when the officers arrived on the scene.

The lawsuit argues that the officers should have made more of an effort to investigate the matter before shooting the boy.

"Young boys playing with replica guns are commonplace in America and police are expected to approach them safely if an investigation is warranted, not shoot them dead within two seconds," the suit states.

The suit comes two days after Loehmann's personnel file was released showing that his supervisors at a previous job determined he had emotional maturity issues, an inability to manage stress and “dismal” performance in firearms training.

Loehmann spent five months in 2012 working for the Independence, Ohio, police department before moving to the Cleveland department, though the newly released review shows that his time on the Independence force was marred with problems. He resigned from that position after it was recommended that he be terminated.