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Cleveland Mayor Apologizes for, Drops Ambulance Charge to Tamir Rice's Estate

by Alex Johnson /  / Updated 

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Cleveland's mayor and other city officials apologized Thursday for asking for reimbursement from Tamir Rice's family for the medical services he received after he was fatally shot by a police officer.

But Tamir's family wasn't buying it, calling the incident "deeply disturbing."

The claim, filed Wednesday in probate court, sought $500 for the ambulance ride and treatment provided to Tamir, the 12-year-old boy who was shot by Cleveland police in November 2014 while in possession of a pellet gun.

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Tamir's family on Wednesday slammed the city's "callousness, insensitivity and poor judgment" in sending the bill.

"I want to start off again apologizing to the Rice family if this, in fact, has added to any grief or pain that they may have," Mayor Frank Jackson said at a news conference Thursday.

Related: Cleveland Wants Tamir Rice Estate to Pay $500 Ambulance Bill

City Finance Director Sharon Dumas said the city never actually billed Tamir's family for the medical services and has no intention of doing so.

She and Richard Horvath, the city's chief corporate counsel, said the claim filed Wednesday was a "routine" result of the probate process, in which Tamir's estate asked for a billing statement for services rendered to identify any potential creditors.

"Because of that process being routine, none of the managers" — including Jackson or other city leaders — "were notified of this before it was filed," Horvath said in announcing that the claim would be withdrawn.

 Tamir Rice Courtesy Rice family attorney

Jackson said, "It was a mistake of us not flagging it, but it was not a mistake in terms of the legal process."

In a statement it issued after the news conference, the Rice family rejected that explanation.

"The suggestion that the estate-administrator sending a routine public-records request to the city about a child's death would then result in the city filing a court claim — particularly when the city's own police officers killed the child and the claim is already time-barred under Ohio law — makes no sense to the Rice family," the statement read. "This was a deeply disturbing incident to them."

The reference to the claim's being "time-barred" refers to a law blocking any claim "that is not presented within six months of the death of a decedent," the family's lawyers said.

Tamir's mother has filed a federal lawsuit against Cleveland and the officers involved in the call that ended in the boy's death. The case is pending.

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