The family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who had a pellet gun when he was fatally shot by a police officer in Cleveland, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer who fired the shot, his partner and the city of Cleveland on Friday. The lawsuit alleges that Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback acted "unreasonably, negligently (and) recklessly" when Loehmann shot Rice, who was playing with an "airsoft" pellet gun, on Nov. 22, according to an eight-page civil rights complaint.
"Had the defendant officers properly approached Tamir and properly investigated his possession of the replica gun they would undoubtedly have determined ... that the gun was fake and that the subject was a juvenile," the complaint said. The lawsuit also alleges that the officers didn't provide Rice with medical attention for more than four minutes "as he lay on the ground alive and bleeding." Rice died in the hospital the next day.
Surveillance video released by the police show the officers' car pulling up right next to the boy, and that Loehmann fired on Tamir within seconds. "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 lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also lists the City of Cleveland as a defendant for allegedly failing to properly train Loehmann and Garmback. The suit claims that the City of Cleveland "failed to secure and read" officer Loehmann's personnel file from a previous police position, which deemed him emotionally unstable and unfit for duty. The lawsuit points out that the City of Cleveland has been the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, detailed by Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday, which found a pattern of "unreasonable and in some cases unnecessary force." A spokesman for the City of Cleveland, Daniel Williams, told NBC News the city had not yet seen the suit as of Friday afternoon and declined to comment.
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— Elisha Fieldstadt