Samaria Rice: "I sent two children out and only one came home."
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It's been ten months since the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
In her first local in-depth interview, Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice sat down with Cleveland 19's Romona Robinson to talk about her son, who she affectionately called Mir Mir.
Tamir was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Nov. 22, 2014.
Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback responded to a 911 call of someone with a gun outside the Cudell Recreation Center. A 911 caller had reported seeing Tamir waving a gun.
Within two seconds of arriving at the rec center, Loehmann opened fire. The gun turned out to be an airsoft pellet gun.
Samaria Rice says she found out later that Tamir had gotten it from a friend. She says she never let Tamir play with squirt guns or video games involving shooting.
In a very soft-spoken voice, Rice spoke about her son and the hopes and dreams she had for Tamir.
"He was a loving, kind, gentle, lovely, affectionate little boy, he really was," Rice said. "Tamir liked football, Tamir liked swimming, Tamir liked riding a bike, he liked soccer, so he liked a variety of, a variety of sports. I wanted him to explore his athletic dreams."
A big smile came over her face when she talked about her son. When the interview turned to that day, you could see the sorrow.
Nov. 22 is still a painful day for Rice to talk about, to even think about. For her, that day was a "normal Saturday."
Tamir and his 14-year-old sister Tajai went to the park like they usually did. The two were inseparable.
"I sent two children out and only one came home," Rice said.
In her interview, Samaria shared with viewers who Tamir was to her and to his siblings.
Samaria Rice has a message to the city and to the officers involved that day.
"It still feels unreal, even to this day. It's a stain on my brain that I will never be able to forget," she said.
She also has a message to critics who say she's trying to capitalize on her son's death.
"I could never be trying to capitalize on his death. I was thrown into this situation, I did not ask for this, I don't even want this. If I could turn it all around, God gave me a wish, I would wish for my son to be back here, for me to go on with my life as I planned. You know, this is not a group that you really want to be in," Rice said.
Rice is waiting for a grand jury to make a decision in her son's case.
"It is frustrating, but I'm hoping that Tim McGinty is doing his thorough investigation like he told me he was. I'm waiting patiently," Rice said. "There is one thing I do want to see. There is a second tape that needs to be released and I'm hoping that it gets released so everyone can see my son and the way that officers came into the park at a different angle."
"Do you believe they shouted commands to Tamir to put down his weapon or put his hands up?" Romona asked.
"Looking at the video, no, because there wasn't enough time. It couldn't have ever been enough time. They scared him. They scared my son. I know my child, I'm looking at my child, he was scared," Rice said.
One decision came on June 11, 2015. Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald B. Adrine released an opinion stating there is probable cause to charge Officer Timothy Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless and negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.
The opinion states there is not enough probable cause to charge Officer Frank Garmback with murder, but he could be charged with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. Garmback was driving the cruiser the day Tamir was shot.
According to the judge's written opinion, "The video in question in this case is notorious and hard to watch. After viewing it several times, this court is still thunderstruck by how quickly this event turned deadly."
The judge is referring to the surveillance video that showed two seconds from the time officers arrived on scene until the shooting.
This decision came about after a group of civil rights leaders, activists and clergy filed a number of citizens affidavits for probable cause in the death of Tamir. The affidavits call upon a judge to issue arrest warrants for Cleveland Division of Police officers in connection with Tamir's death.
The group used a seldom-used Ohio law to go straight to a judge to request murder charges against the officers involved in the shooting. Community leaders were concerned that nothing would be done in the wake of Tamir's death.
However, according to the policy of the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office a grand jury will make that decision.
Rice still has plenty of questions about that day. She explains what she hopes will come from Tamir's death.
Regardless of the circumstances and who was right or wrong, a 12-year-old is dead and a mother lost her child. Samaria shares with Romona what gets her through the day.
When asked what if Officer Loehmann is not charged in Tamir's death, Rice responded, "Shame on the system and God bless this nation, that's all I can say."
On any reaction that citizens may have to the situation, Rice said she hopes people will be peaceful, and help spark something that could lead to change.
The full interview, along with never-before-seen photos, will air Thursday on Cleveland 19 after Thursday Night Football.
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