Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson apologized on Monday for what he called "very insensitive" language used to characterize the actions of Tamir Rice and his family before the 12-year-old boy was gunned down by police in November.
In a court filing on Friday defending the city against a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Rice family, lawyers for the city of Cleveland 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 city's response said.
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"In an attempt to protect all of our defenses we used words and we phrased things in such a way that was very insensitive, very insensitive to the tragedy in general, the family and the victim in particular," Jackson said Monday. "So we are apologizing today as the city of Cleveland to the family of Tamir Rice and to the citizens of the city of Cleveland for our poor use of words and our insensitivity in the use of those words."
Jackson said the city would file an amended response to the Rice family lawsuit that would deal with "the language and the characterization that we used."
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.
—Richie Duchon and Elisha Fieldstadt