Cleveland Police Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback gave statements—released Tuesday—in which they claim 12-year-old Tamir Rice put them in a must-shoot situation by lifting his shirt and reaching into his waistband instead of showing his hands.
Rice was shot and killed on November 22, 2014, after a 911 caller reported “a young man playing with a weapon and pointing it at people outside of a local recreation center.” And although the caller told the dispatcher that “the person in question was possibly a child playing with a toy,” the Washington Post reports that that information was not shared with the officers.
In a statement dated November 30, 2015, Loehmann described events that unfolded once the cruiser in which he was riding arrived on scene:
As the car slid, I started to open the door and yell continuously “show me your hands” as loud as I could. Officer Garmback was also yelling “show me your hands.”
I kept my eyes on the suspect the entire time. I was fixed on his waistband and hand area. I was trained to keep my eyes on hands because “hands may kill.” The male appeared to over 18 years old and about 185 pounds.
The suspect lifted his shirt and reached down into his waistband. We continued to yell “show me your hands.” I was focused on the suspect. Even when he was reaching into waistband, I didn’t fire. I was still yelling the command, “show me your hands.”
Later in the statement, Loehmann said:
I observed the suspect pulling the gun out of the waistband with his elbow coming up. Officer Garmback and I were still yelling “show me your hands.” With his hands pulling the gun out and his elbow coming up, I knew it was a gun and it was coming out. I saw the weapon in hands coming out of his waistband and the threat to my partner and myself was real and active.
Loehmann said he then fired two rounds at Rice, shooting “towards the gun in [Rice’s] hand.”
In a statement dated November 30, 2015, Garmback described the pivotal seconds thus:
I first saw… that the male had a gun about the time Ptl. Loehmann exited the cruiser. The male was pulling it from the right front area of his waistband. I thought the gun was real.
I believe the cruiser windows were up at the time of these events, but I am not sure.
Both Ptl. Loehmann and I directed the male to show his hands.
I thought the male was an adult. Over 18 years old.
I saw the gun loose on the ground, a few feet from the male after he was shot. I moved it further away from him.
The Washington Post reports Rice family attorneys claim the officers’ statements “are inconsistent,” in part because of Garmback’s statement that the windows might have been “up at the time of these events.” The attorneys suggest this disproves Loehmann’s claims to have repeatedly told Rice to show his hands.
According to Cleveland.com, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report on Rice showed the 12-year-old “stood 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 195 pounds.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at email@example.com.