The city of Cleveland will pay $6 million to settle the federal lawsuit filed by the family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy killed by police gunfire in November 2014, according to a settlement announced Monday in U.S. District Court.
According to terms of the settlement, the city acknowledges no fault in Tamir’s death, which came after a 911 caller told of someone in a city park brandishing what appeared to be a toy gun.
Officer Timothy Loehmann, a trainee, shot Tamir moments after arriving in response to the call. Police said the boy was pulling out what was later found to be a toy gun when he was shot.
In December, a grand jury declined to indict Loehmann or his trainer, Officer Frank Garmback, in Tamir’s death. The grand jury concluded the shooting was a “perfect storm of human error, mistakes and communications” but not a criminal act, prosecutor Tim McGinty said at the time.
The family’s January 2015 wrongful death lawsuit argued the city was negligent in Tamir’s death.
The family said dispatchers should have told officers about a 911 caller’s statements that the gun Tamir had was likely a toy, that officers approached the scene too aggressively and Loehmann fired too quickly, and that they failed to help the boy after he was shot.
The family also alleged that Loehmann wasn’t suited to be a police officer and that the city failed to vet or supervise officers properly.
In response, the city said in legal filings that Tamir was at fault and maintained the city was entitled to immunity under state and federal law.
Mayor Frank Jackson later apologized for the wording, calling it hurtful and disrespectful.
On Monday, Jackson addressed reporters on the settlement, declining to offer details about how the agreement was reached and expressing hope the settlement would begin to move the city toward closure.
But he said, “There is no price that you can put on the life, on the loss, of a 12-year-old child.”
The city will pay half of the money this year, and half next year, according to a document filed in court.
The Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association responded with a statement. “We have maintained from the onset this has been an absolute tragedy for the Rice family as well as our involved officers and their families. Our hearts continue to be with them,” Stephen Loomis, the president of the association, said in a short emailed statement.
“We can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms. Something positive must come from this tragic loss. That would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm.
“We look forward to the possibility of working with the Rice family to achieve this common goal.”
A probate judge must still approve the settlement, according to the document.