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The city of Cleveland claims the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice at the hands of a police officer and the "losses" suffered by his family were a result of the boy's and his family's own actions that day. The city's denial of any wrongdoing was filed Friday in response to a wrongful death lawsuit brought by lawyers for the Rice family last month.
The city wrote that Tamir's injuries were caused by him failing to "exercise due care." In addition, the complaints brought on behalf of Tamir's sister and mother were also "directly caused by their own acts" — not the officers involved, the response said.
Tamir was fatally shot on Nov. 22 by Cleveland rookie cop Timothy Loehmann, who with his partner, Frank Garmback, were called to a recreation center where Tamir was holding a pellet gun. Police responding to the scene initially believed the pellet gun, which did not have an orange tip identifying it as a replica, was real. Loehmann fired on Tamir within less than two seconds of arriving, surveillance footage shows, and the boy died in the hospital the next day.
The Rice family filed an 8-page wrongful death suit against the two officers and the city of Cleveland in December. But after retaining a new legal team, including high-profile civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, the family filed an amended 65-page suit against the same defendants, which brought at least 27 allegations against the city and the officers.
The suit says Garmback and Loehmann used excessive force and were indifferent to Tamir's medical needs. It also claims that police tackled Tamir's sister to the ground and then placed her in a patrol car when she realized her brother was shot. Tamir's mother was then allegedly forced to decide whether to ride in the police car with her daughter or in the ambulance with her son.
The lawsuit brought by the Rice family lawyers also claims that employees of the city of Cleveland are "withholding substantial evidence and information" and that the city has failed to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the officers. The city denied both charges in its response, and said they are cooperating with an independent investigation by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department.
The city also said there isn't enough information yet to know the truth of the allegations that officers Loehmann and Garmback "stood idly by" as Tamir lay wounded on the ground without any medical assistance. The city repeatedly wrote in its response that it couldn't provide "sufficient" details because the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's investigation is ongoing.
Another one of the Rice family's attorneys, Walter Madison, told NBC News in a statement Saturday that he and his partners maintain that Tamir was "shot and killed unnecessarily" and that his "death at the hands of an unfit police officer(s) and a division of police that continues to endorse their behavior led to our legitimate lawsuit."