Community activist, family of Tamir Rice: Expert opinions wrong

Community activist, family of Tamir Rice: Expert opinions wrong
Tamir Rice was shot and killed by Cleveland Police at Cudell Rec Center in November 2014. (Source: Family)
Surveillance video captured the incident. (Source: City of Cleveland)
Surveillance video captured the incident. (Source: City of Cleveland)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Three experts have now weighed in on the day 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by Cleveland police.

Officers were called to the Cudell Recreation Center in November 2014 after a 911 call said someone was waving a gun around outside.

Surveillance video showed police arriving and shooting Rice within seconds of exiting their car.

The experts are quoted in reports that come from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, a member of the Denver District Attorney's office, and a retired member of the FBI in Virginia.

The experts' findings said the officer's use of force was "reasonable" considering what police knew about the situation they were faced with. The officers observed what a 911 caller had described: Someone with a gun outside the Cudell Rec Center who appeared to be reaching down his right side to pick up his jacket. The fact that Tamir was only 12, and the toy gun was missing its colored tip is unfortunate, but does not mean the officer did anything wrong, according to one of the experts.

Community activists like Dr. R.A. Vernon of The Word Church disagree with the experts' reports. Vernon says he worries that this could be a prelude of what's to come.

"Normally, police do not go to jail for killing black children. That's a reality, statistically, that's not my opinion. I'm sad about that because I think most police are great men. Our city needs us to come together right now, but that day, that was bad policing," said the pastor.

Tamir Rice's family released a statement, saying in part:

"Any presentation to a grand jury—without the prosecutor advocating for Tamir—is a charade. To get so-called experts to assist in the whitewash—when the world has the video of what happened—is all the more alarming."

The president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, Steve Loomis, said the opinions are what his organization expected.

"We believe that they are correct. We have maintained that from day one, but we've also maintained that this has been an absolute tragedy from day one," added Loomis, in an interview at the CPPA's headquarters in Cleveland.

A grand jury will have a chance to review the experts' opinions and will ultimately decide whether the officers involved will face charges.

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