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City of Cleveland Settles Tamir Rice Lawsuit for $6 Million

by Corky Siemaszko and The Associated Press /  / Updated 
A memorial on Dec. 3, at Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland for 12-year-old Tamir Rice.Ty Wright /

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Another painful chapter in the Tamir Rice tragedy closed Monday when the city of Cleveland agreed to pay $6 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought by the slain boy's family.

But the city admitted no wrongdoing in the death of the 12-year-old black boy who was fatally shot by a white cop while holding a pellet gun outside a recreation center.

 Tamir Rice Courtesy Rice family attorney

“Although historic in financial terms, no amount of money can adequately compensate for the loss of a life,” the Rice family’s lawyers said in a statement. “In a situation such as this, there is no such thing as closure or justice. Nothing will bring Tamir back.”

An order filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland on Monday says the city will pay out $3 million this year and $3 million the next.

Tamir's estate has been assigned $5.5 million of the settlement amount. A Cuyahoga County probate judge will decide how the amount will be divided. Samaria Rice, Tamir's mother, will receive $250,000. Claims against Tamir's estate account for the remaining $250,000. Tamir's father, Leonard Warner, was dismissed in February as a party to the lawsuit.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said the settlement brought an end to the civil case, but considerable pain — for Rice's family and the city as a whole — remained.

"While we have settled the legal side of this and the court side of this for $6 million, there is no price you can put on the life of a lost 12-year-old child," Jackson told reporters.

Asked how the settlement amount squared with the lack of any admission of wrongdoing, the mayor replied: "It's just a legal way of doing things."

The settlement won't impact an ongoing disciplinary investigation against the officers, he said.

The fatal shooting unfolded on Nov. 22, 2014: A police cruiser raced in front of a Cleveland recreation center and rolled up alongside Rice. One of the two police officers inside the car jumped out and fired his service weapon twice. Rice, who earlier had been flashing around a toy pellet gun, crumpled onto the snowy soil.

The incident lasted less than two seconds.

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The choppy surveillance footage of the fatal shooting stoked public outrage and prompted calls for police reform.

The death of the boy also became the latest example in the national debate over policing in minority communities and what constitutes a justifiable use of force — a rallying point for the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

A grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers. The local prosecutor declared what happened to the boy was a “perfect storm of human error” — but not a crime. A federal civil rights investigation is pending.

It was “reasonable” for the officers responding to reports of a gunman in front of a recreation center to believe they were in danger when Tamir reached for what turned out to be a pellet gun, prosecutor Timothy McGinty said.

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