A lawyer representing a Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November criticized the city's mayor Tuesday for apologizing for the language used in a legal response to a lawsuit filed by the boy's family.
"In reviewing the events of November 22, 2014, the mayor and others were not present. Life looks different through a rear view mirror," said Henry Hilow, Officer Tim Loehmann's attorney.
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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson apologized Monday for language in the city's response to a lawsuit filed by Tamir's family. The response blamed the fatal shooting on the actions of Tamir, who was carrying what police described as a pellet gun that resembled a firearm.
Loehmann shot Tamir within 2 seconds after Loehmann and another police officer pulled up next to the boy after a caller said someone was waving a gun around at a park. The caller told police the gun was probably fake, but that information apparently was never relayed to the officers.
"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."
Hilow said the city's attorneys were only defending Cleveland in the lawsuit. "It was irresponsible for Mayor Jackson to comment on a pending lawsuit. Mayor Jackson, who is an attorney, knows the importance of representing a client and acting responsibly," Hilow said. "His conduct has done a disservice to the City of Cleveland and the attorneys for the city."
— Phil Helsel