Commentary: Tamir Rice Decision Shows How Little We Have Learned in the Last Year

Tamir Rice Shooting
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Tamir Rice Shooting
From the Shooting Video Released by Cleveland Police following the November 2014 shooting

In August, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 227, authored by state Senator Holly J. Mitchell, which eliminates the use of a criminal grand jury to investigate cases where a member of law enforcement is alleged to have caused the death of a suspect, either by a shooting or by use of excessive force.

As Senator Mitchell noted, “The use of the criminal grand jury process, and the refusal to indict as occurred in Ferguson and other communities of color, has fostered an atmosphere of suspicion that threatens to compromise our justice system.”

A chief criticism of the grand jury process is that criminal grand jury proceedings differ from traditional trials in a variety of ways – they are not adversarial, as no defense attorneys, or judges, participate. There are no cross-examinations of witnesses, or any objections. There is no oversight to how prosecutors explain the law to the jurors and what prosecutors say about the evidence – and the proceedings are secret.

“Communities want a criminal justice system that is transparent and which holds all of the players—law enforcement, prosecutors and judges, accountable when there are civilian deaths resulting from the conduct of officers. Criminal grand juries do neither,” said LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, northern California’s first African-American female judge, and former San Jose police auditor.

And yet in the Tamir Rice case, we have no such recognition and, therefore for many, the decision not to indict will seem illegitimate.

Judge Ronald Adrine, a municipal court judge in Cleveland, in an informal hearing had found probable cause to criminally charge the officers involved in the shooting. On Tuesday, he told BuzzFeed, “It certainly was unique, the way they went about it. It was unusual,” speaking of County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s handling of the case.

Mr. McGinty announced that the grand jury had declined to bring charges against officers Frank Garmback and Tim Loehmann. Mr. Loehmann shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014, because he thought the toy gun he was holding was real.

But the prosecutor told reporters on Monday that he recommended that the grand jury not charge the officers. His team, he said, showed the grand jury how the toy gun looked like a real weapon.

Tamir Rice’s family issued a statement accusing the prosecutor’s office, saying they “deliberately sabotaged the case, never advocating for my son, and acting instead like the police officers’ defense attorney.” The family added, “In our view, this process demonstrates that race is still an extremely troubling and serious problem in our country and the criminal-justice system.”

SB 227 only prohibits grand juries from being impaneled in such cases, which would force the prosecution to go a preliminary hearing route if they wish to charge officers – however, the decision to charge officers could be made internally. A better approach may be to take all such cases to a special prosecutor who would be more independent of the local law enforcement circles.

But the issue of the grand jury only takes us part way there.  There is a systemic problem here.  Yesterday the New York Times, however, offered a scathing critique of the episode in an editorial.

As the Times notes, “Mr. McGinty described the events leading up to Tamir’s death as tragic series of errors and ‘miscommunications’ that began when a 911 caller said a male who was ‘probably a juvenile’ was waving a ‘probably fake’ gun at people in a park.”

They note, “The fact that those caveats never reached Officer Loehmann — who shot the child within seconds of arriving on the scene — was more than just an administrative misstep. It reflects an utter disregard for the lives of the city’s black residents. That disregard pervades every aspect of this case and begins with the fact that the department failed to even review Officer Loehmann’s work history before giving him the power of life and death over the citizens of Cleveland.”

The Times continues, “Had the department done so, it would have found that Officer Loehmann had quit a suburban police department where he had showed a ‘dangerous loss of composure’ during firearms training and was found to be emotionally unfit for the stress of the job.”

The Cleveland Police Department has “a well-documented reputation for wanton violence and for shooting at people who posed no threat to the police or others. In a particularly striking event, documented by the Justice Department last year, officers mistook the sound of a car backfiring for a gunshot. They chased down and fired at the vehicle 137 times, killing two occupants who turned out to be unarmed.”

They continue, “The lengthy Justice Department report shows clearly why the black community viewed the Cleveland police as dangerous and profoundly out of control. In May, the Police Department entered an agreement with the Justice Department, enforceable by the courts, under which it is to adopt sweeping reforms.”

It continues, “The Police Department’s disregard for life was fully evident in the way the officers behaved after shooting Tamir. A surveillance video shows them standing by the child for four minutes without giving medical assistance, which was finally provided by an F.B.I. agent who happened to be in the neighborhood. Officer Frank Garmback, Officer Loehmann’s partner, nonetheless tackled the wounded boy’s 14-year-old sister as she tried to rush to his side. One can only imagine her suffering as she watched in handcuffs from the back seat of the squad car while her brother lay bleeding on the ground.”

“In addition to portraying the killing as a result of a tragic misunderstanding, prosecutors have also suggested the officer’s decision to kill Tamir was shaped by the fact that the surrounding neighborhood had a history of violence and that the boy appeared to be older than 12 because he was big for his age,” they conclude. “These arguments sidestep the history of violent, discriminatory police actions that led up to this boy’s death. They also have the reprehensible effect of shifting the responsibility for this death onto the shoulders of this very young victim.”

Given that backdrop, it is hard to know where the officer’s culpability begins and the police department’s ends. But at the end of the day, a 12-year-old is dead and the system looks incapable of remedying the situation – again.

Or, as the Times writes, “Tamir, who was shot to death by a white police officer that day, had the misfortune of being black in a poor area of Cleveland, where the police have historically behaved as an occupying force that shoots first and asks questions later. To grow up black and male in such a place is to live a highly circumscribed life, hemmed in by forces that deny your humanity and conspire to kill you.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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46 thoughts on “Commentary: Tamir Rice Decision Shows How Little We Have Learned in the Last Year”

  1. zaqzaq

    It can go bad very quickly for a police officer during an encounter with a citizen.  Below are a couple of videos of police officers being shot during traffic stops or other encounters.  Please note how quickly the individual pulls out a gun and shoots these police officers.  You can go on youtube and find many other examples of how quickly a police officer can have a gun pulled on them in what would otherwise be a routine encounter with an individual.

    Pulls gun out of pocket

    Pulls gun out of pocket

    Traffic Stop

    Another Traffic Stop

    I think these video put into context what a reasonable police officer would do when his partner stops the vehicle close to an individual who reportedly has a gun and then the individual reaches for the gun.  Where is the crime for the officer who shot and killed Tamir Rice?  He is thrust into a situation where he is confronting an individual who was reportedly pointing a gun at individuals who is reaching for that gun.  Hesitation can result in the officer’s death.  Only afterwards does he find out that it is a twelve year old child with a toy gun.  Rice was also large for his age, 5’7″ and 170 lbs., and bundled up in winter clothing.

    Concerning the DA’s decision to use the grand jury when he recommended no charges is gutsy.  What if the grand jury disagreed with him and indicted the officers?  It is cleaner to just make the decision and not use the grand jury.  Either way many people will not be happy.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      As I put in this report, the officers should have had information from the 911 caller that they believed the individual was a child with a toy gun. There is also the history of the police department and the officer himself to consider. I’m not sure where I come down on whether this was an officer mistake or a department mistake. I don’t agree that the decision to go to the grand jury was gutsy, it is pretty rare for a prosecutor to recommend no indictment and it’s equally rare for a grand jury to go against the prosecutor. I think all decisions need to go to a special prosecutor outside the jurisdiction, prosecutors have too much ability to push the scales in indictments as it is.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        One more thing – most people think if this incident happened in a white, middle class suburban neighborhood, the kid would still be alive. That I agree with.

        1. Miwok

          What is even more unrealistic, is White people from Davis, CA are making a conversation about people of color in Cleveland.

          When this topic came up at UCD for me, the people there told me that Just like being a woman, a male can not even have an opinion about them. Same as White people cannot speak out or comment on Black problems, or show support, because you are white. Ask the White people in Ferguson who were beat up marching with the Blacks as a show of support.

          The problem with this discussion is while it may have all the right words and feelings, you are not the right color to say them. You are disqualified if you are not Black.

      2. zaqzaq

        The problem is that you have crappy cases that the grand juries are rejecting and a vocal segment of the population that think that justice requires a murder conviction for the involved police officers.  They are then encouraged by the families lawyers who are publicly attacking the process while at the same time suing the city for monetary damages.  And when a DA gets an indictment they are stuck with having to prove it at trial.   You need to look no further than Baltimore.

        It sounds like you might be agreeing with the DA’s assessment that mistakes were made by the police but no crime was committed.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I think the criminal line in this case is more difficult to establish.  I would be much more comfortable with someone with less skin in the outcome assessing it.  However, there are clear mistakes made by the police that led to this death and clear mistakes by the department and dispatch.  I agree with DP, that the reasonable officer standard here is more murky than you present because had the officers assessed the totality of the situation, they might have come to a different conclusion about the threat that the kid posed to them.

        2. zaqzaq

          Did you even look at the videos that I linked to?  They clearly demonstrate the extremely short time that officers have to react when an individual is armed with a gun and also how easy it is to conceal these guns.  There is a segment of society that wants to use hindsight to second guess officers and criminalize mistakes as a form of justice.  That is not how our justice system works where there is a civil avenue for holding individuals and entities accountable for mistakes.  Would you want the dispatcher who did not convey critical information charged with a crime? If you do then you need to take a hard look at the medical profession for the life ending mistakes made there.  I posted a link on 12/23 to an article where a hospital had a woman arrested for refusing to leave the hospital when she was discharged.  The woman claimed difficulty breathing.  She collapsed as the officers escorted her out of the hospital in handcuffs and died hours later in that same hospital.  Clearly a misdiagnosis (otherwise known as a big mistake) by the medical team at the hospital that resulted in her death.  Would you want criminal charges?  Tia always dances around this issue for the medical profession.  Since you are so quick to want criminal charges for cops does your zeal carry over to the medical profession?

          There are clearly areas where the Cleveland police department can improve.  That is a separate issue from a criminal prosecution of the officers.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            I don’t see those videos as material to this situation. As pointed out, even a brief surveillance of the scene would have cast doubt on the notion that he had an actual gun. The officers arrived on the scene, put themselves in jeopardy by proximity, and the reacted without a full assessment of the scene.

    2. Tia Will

      zaqzaq

      Ok, let’s suppose for the moment that the actual shooting could be justified. Please explain to me how you believe that it is reasonable for two police officers to leave an individual who has been shot lying on the ground completely unassisted and unattended to for four minutes.

      For those who may not know, four minutes is an eternity if an individual has been injured but not killed. It is time to tamponade off a major bleeding vessel. This I know. I have done it many times until a needed piece of equipment was obtained or a vascular surgeon summoned. It is time to assess for breathing and administer CPR as needed. It is time to act like a human being and let the sister go to her brother whether dead or alive. None of this appears to have happened. I do not pretend to judge when a shot should or should not be taken under duress. I do know that there is no excuse on the face of the earth to not even attempt to assess or aide someone who has been shot. For this reason if no other, these two officers should be judged unfit to be armed and on our streets.

      1. Frankly

        Please explain to me how you believe that it is reasonable for two police officers to leave an individual who has been shot lying on the ground completely unassisted and unattended to for four minutes.

        With all due respect doctor, you don’t have a freakin’ clue.

        Someone is shot laying on the ground with a gun still in their hand they are still a danger to shoot back.   In fact, many cops and soldiers have been shot failing to recognize the suspect playing possum.

        If an officer shoots, the officer shoots to kill.  There is no reason to shoot unless the officer believes his life or the lives of others are in imminent danger.

        The challenge here is did the officer have a reasonable enough assessment of immediate imminent danger to himself or others to justify shooting to kill.   The number of shots means nothing really.

        Now, I think we can and should have some dialog for if the police protocol of only shooting to kill is the right protocol.   But then that brings up a very large list of other considerations.  Do we really want cops to shoot people to disable them?  The whole reason that there is the rule that a cop should only shoot his weapon at a suspect if he believes he is justified to kill that suspect is to establish that shooting a suspect is supposed to be a very rare occurrence… and it is.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          Then what in your opinion had changed when the FBI agent appeared and did an assessment of Tamir ?  You think that he was reckless and endangered everyone by his actions ? Regardless of their “intent” to kill, they cannot have known whether or not they were successful unless they checked ?  Were they behind cover those entire four minutes because of the possibility that he might still shoot them ? Was he still clutching the gun ?  Do you know….or are you simply speculating in favor of the police because that is your default position ?

      2. zaqzaq

        “Please explain to me how you believe that it is reasonable for two police officers to leave an individual who has been shot lying on the ground completely unassisted and unattended to for four minutes.”

        I am not going to claim that it is reasonable just that it is not a crime.  It may be a civil action but it is not a crime.  They did not prevent any medical personnel or individuals with medical training provide assistance.  The family may be able to sue the city and the officers in civil court for monetary damages but it is not a crime.  For it to be a crime you need to have a statute, otherwise know as a law, that makes it illegal for a police officer to not provide immediate medical assistance to an individual that they shoot.

        Do you have any information that would lead you to believe that any Cleveland police officer knows how to “tamponade off a major bleeding vessel”?  My understanding is that Rice was shot in the stomach which would most likely require a trained doctor to treat him surgically in order to save his life.  Merely putting pressure on the stomach wound to prevent the bleeding out of the body which does not stop the internal bleeding is not likely to make a difference.  Can you say the four minutes before any treatment by the FBI agent caused his death?  What are the policies of the Cleveland police department concerning officers providing medical treatment for individuals that they shoot?  What equipment and training do these police officers have?

        1. Tia Will

          zaqzaq

          Do you have any information that would lead you to believe that any Cleveland police officer knows how to “tamponade off a major bleeding vessel”? “

          Yes. I am quite sure that they have been trained in first aide. Without making any kind of assessment at all they would not have known the extent of the wounds. This was callous disregard for the life of the individual. I did not say that their efforts would have been successful, most likely as you stated, they would not have been with a central body shot, but again, no one can know that without an assessment which was not made.

          And as for whether or not this kind of inaction is criminal, I doubt either of us know. Do you have information that states that a Cleveland police officer is not designated as a first responder who is obliged to give aide to an individual who is incapacitated and unarmed ?  I do not, and thus am making no claim to criminality, only that an individual so callous as to not even try to provide assistance while someone bleeds out does not, in my opinion have any business being armed on our streets.

        2. zaqzaq

          Tia,

          The online research I found indicates that Cleveland police officers receive 12 hours of CPR and first aid training in the academy.  The last force wide training on first aid occurred six years ago in 2009.  I do not know if they covered what to do with a person shot in the stomach.  In fact I doubt they did as they probably covered medical issues where their efforts would make a difference.

          I posted a link on 12/23 to an article where a hospital had a woman arrested for refusing to leave the hospital when she was discharged.  The woman claimed difficulty breathing.  She collapsed as the officers escorted her out of the hospital in handcuffs and died hours later in that same hospital.  Clearly a misdiagnosis (otherwise known as a big mistake) by the medical team at the hospital that resulted in her death.  Would you want criminal charges?  Is this a callous disregard for the life of this woman and should these medical professionals be banned from the medical profession for life as you are advocating for these police officers?

        3. zaqzaq

          Tia,
          The FBI agent was a trained paramedic.  He stated that the police officers wanted to help but did not know what to do.  See the story in the link.  FBI Agent  The agent then indicated that the only first aid equipment the police had were plastic gloves.  He took charge of Rice’s treatment even after firemen arrived as he was more qualified.  Would you like to retract your statement about the officer’s “lack of basic decency, that neither of them should ever again be on the street as a police officer with a gun” based on their behavior after the shooting?  All you have to do is take a few minutes and do a google search to get information on these cases.  Where is your decency?

          Reply

  2. Davis Progressive

    you’re actually very wrong zaqzaq.  the problem that you have is that you like the officers are ignoring the context.  tamir was not alone at the park.  none of the other kids were reacting with fear or panic.  had the officers simply surveiled the scene and had dispatch accurately relayed the 911 call, this never would have happened.

  3. zaqzaq

    DP, you are really wrong on this point.  Hindsight is 100% but that is not available to police officers in these situations.  I concur had dispatch relayed all of the correct information this would not have happened but they didn’t and there is a large segment of the public that wants the officer convicted of murder for shooting a 12 yer old child.  My point is that with the information that the officer had when he was confronted with a choice as he exited the vehicle he should never be prosecuted.  The dispatcher and driver of the vehicle put the shooter in a difficult position and he most likely acted consistently with his training.  I posted a number of videos where officers were shot in mere seconds during an encounter to illustrate how an officer can quickly be killed by a person with a concealed gun during a routine encounter.  This officer reacted to the situation he was in and it was not a crime.  The real crime involves the companies that sell these toy guns.  This is not the first and will not be the last child killed as a result.

      1. zaqzaq

        Wouldn’t that justify their decision to pull up right next to Rice?  I do not recall any individuals standing near Rice in the video when the police pulled up.  How close was the nearest person to Rice.?  But all of that goes out the window when they see him reaching for what appears like a real gun and they have to react.  Look at the videos I posted.  Again this is an issue for a civil court, not a criminal one.  All you have to do is look at the Zimmerman trial for what not to do in a politicized prosecution that resulted in a not guilty verdict.  Is this the independent entity that you want for police involved deaths?  The local DA properly evaluated the case and declined to file charges.  The physical evidence showed that Martin was on top of Zimmerman assaulting him in a public that Zimmerman had as much right to be as Martin.  I for one do not want to put on show trials to make one segment of our population feel better where the facts of the case do not support a crime.  That is the current problem in Baltimore and why I hope the DA loses all of those cases.

        1. Davis Progressive

          according to eyewitness accounts, there were people all over the park.  normally if you see an individual with a gun, people react with fear and are running away.  that’s not what the witnessneses described.

          “Again this is an issue for a civil court, not a criminal one. ”

          you seem to forget that this could be negligent homicide which is a criminal crime.  you seem to be arguing against a murder charge – i agree.  they made an error in judgment, not malice.

        2. zaqzaq

          DP,

          The two cases would be severed.  The shooter will claim that the driver put him in the position in close proximity to Rice and he was forced to fire when he saw Rice reaching for what appeared to be a real gun.  If you looked at the videos you can see how little time the officer had in which to decide to shoot or not to shoot.  David is acting like an ostrich by sticking his head in the sand by not looking at them.  Are you also an ostrich or have you looked at them.  To a certain extent my point is validated by the DA who decided that charges were not appropriate after reviewing all of the evidence.  The grand jury also agreed and they even had the opinions of the family’s experts to consider.

        3. zaqzaq

          How about the officers believe that the individuals in the park are unaware of the danger and they have to act quickly to prevent any injury to the innocent civilians in the park or the children in the recreation center.  Get over it.  There is not crime here.

        4. zaqzaq

          No I do not care to rephrase.  There is no crime here.  Get over it. This incident it ripe for a look at police procedures and training.  I suspect that most police departments budgets do not include enough funds for better training for the officers and the quality of service reflects this deficit.

    1. Frankly

      We need to look at it as the number of cop killings as a percentage of total crime. Doing so puts the US actually quite a bit lower than many European countries you would tag as being so criminal-friendly.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        We need to look at it as the number of cop killings as a percentage of total crime.”

        I could not disagree more for two reasons.

        1. Police are provided by the public with their weapons and their authority to use lethal force because we anticipate that they will use these rights and materials to protect us. Since they are ceded powers that we do not give to every citizen, they are answerable to a higher standard of behavior. We do not give citizens the right to use lethal force on another citizen because they thought that individual might have a weapon and were afraid for their life. And yet police seem to use this successfully as their defense on a regular basis.

        2. If by “total crime” you are including non violent crime and/or victimless crimes such as individual drug use, then you are comparing apples to oranges. If you are including only violent crime or crime that ends in loss of life, then you have a basis for comparison, but then your statistics are unlikely to pan out the way you claim they do with regard to European countries.

        1. Miwok

          1. Police are provided by the public with their weapons and their authority to use lethal force because we anticipate that they will use these rights and materials to protect us.

          Interesting you think that. How would you think about your Police Department if you knew the Police carry weapons to protect themselves? YOU are expendable. They also prevent any person from defending themselves. They pretend to Protect YOU, when they are just the cleanup crew.

          I would suggest that Police start traveling with a Social Worker or Mental Health Professional 24/7 to advise the Officer when to use force, and try to reason with people before the PD gets involved. Lots more people will be signed up for services, and the Crime Rate goes down, right?

  4. Tia Will

    BP

    Hmmmmm, where have I heard that before?”

    I have no idea where you have heard it before. Maybe you could share.

    However, I do have a question for you. How many deaths of unarmed individuals at the hands of the police would seem to be an appropriate number to you ? I will answer the question first for myself so that you will not think this is a “gotcha question”. The answer for me would be zero. If the individual is unarmed, the risk to the officer is zero. I do not believe that officer’s fear of what an individual might ( or might not ) have in their possession is a reason to kill them.

  5. Tia Will

    zaqzaq

    Clearly a misdiagnosis (otherwise known as a big mistake) by the medical team at the hospital that resulted in her death.  Would you want criminal charges?  Is this a callous disregard for the life of this woman and should these medical professionals be banned from the medical profession for life as you are advocating for these police officers?”

    No. I would not want criminal prosecution for a misdiagnosis. But a misdiagnosis is very different from a refusal to assess. If, in your example, no provider even assessed the patient, then I believe that criminal prosecution would be in order since Emergency Rooms cannot turn away patients.

    Again, it is not their failure to save Tamir that I am criticizing. I am criticizing their lack of humanity in even doing a basic assessment. So given the degree of training that they would have had by your report, this is what I would have expected.

    1. As soon as Tamir was down, unless actively wielding the weapon, I would have expected that one officer would have gone forward and removed the weapon. At this point they would have recognized that it was not real.

    2. I would have expected that they would have assessed for the presence of the ABC’s. Airway, breathing, and circulation as these are thoroughly covered in all basic first aide courses.

    3. I would have expected that if one of the ABC’s was not met, they would have started CPR immediately while calling for immediate medical assistance.

    4. I would have expected that if the ABC’s were intact, they would have next turned their attention to any bleeding wound and I would have expected them to tamponade to the best of their ability whether or not they believed it would help. Since the deep vessels are just that, deep, it would not be possible without surgical exploration to determine whether a major vessel such as the aorta, or a side tributary had been injured. Therefore, I would want the presiding officers to not play doctor but to attempt to aide to the best of their ability until a higher level of care was available.

    Again, as Bidden frequently points out, I have no knowledge of the law. I do not desire prosecution of these officers. I do not desire the destruction of their lives, that of their families or destruction of their ability to earn a living. What I do expect is that given their lack of judgement, but more importantly their lack of basic decency, that neither of them should ever again be on the street as a police officer with a gun.

    1. zaqzaq

      Tia,

      What a double standard.  The doctors discharged her saying nothing was wrong with her and she still informed them that she was having difficulty breathing.  Instead of taking a second look or conducting additional tests they told her to leave.  How is that not negligent.  When she refused to leave because she was still having trouble breathing instead of helping her they called the police and had her arrested for trespassing and disturbing the police.  She was escorted out of the hospital in handcuffs and collapsed and taken back into the hospital where she died.  Should those medical “professionals” who missed the medical problem that resulted in her death and then had her arrested ever for not leaving the emergency room ever be allowed to practice medicine again?  Obviously there were additional tests that could have found the problem but they decided not to do so.  Oh, by the way, did I didn’t mention that she was black.  Maybe that had something to do with their treatment of her.  Or maybe because she had not money.   BP talks about a crime involving a negligent death.  Would a reasonable doctor call the police in a situation like this?

      We still have not heard from the police department if the officers violated any policies concerning the administration of first aid to Rice.

       

    2. zaqzaq

      Tia,

      The FBI agent was a trained paramedic.  He stated that the police officers wanted to help but did not know what to do.  See the story in the link.  FBI Agent  The agent then indicated that the only first aid equipment the police had were plastic gloves.  He took charge of Rice’s treatment even after firemen arrived as he was more qualified.  Would you like to retract your statement about the officer’s “lack of basic decency, that neither of them should ever again be on the street as a police officer with a gun” based on their behavior after the shooting?  All you have to do is take a few minutes and do a google search to get information on these cases.  Where is your decency?

       

  6. Tia Will

    Miwok

    I would suggest that Police start traveling with a Social Worker or Mental Health Professional 24/7 to advise the Officer when to use force, and try to reason with people before the PD gets involved.”

    We have a version of what you seem to be promoting. There is a crisis intervention specialist ( sorry that I do not recall the exact title) that does accompany the police when there is a call that appears to involve a mental distress issue. While it is not the job of that individual to “advise the Officer when to use force” as I understand it, it is their job to attempt to de escalate tense situations whenever possible in order to prevent the unfortunate tragedy that can result when a fearful police officer confronts a mentally ill individual who is also too terrified to  put up their hands, or put down their “weapon”.

  7. David Greenwald Post author

    Timothy Loehmann had been out of work for five years. His luck changed in March 2012 when he landed a job as a police officer in Independence, Ohio. On his application, he cited having a “stable job” as one of his main motivators for joining the police force.

    By December 5, 2012, Loehmann was no longer a police officer. The Independence Police Department has stated that Loehmann’s employment lasted a total of five months.

    Four out of those five months were spent in the police academy. Loehmann had spent only a month as an official police officer before his alarming misconduct became too much of a liability for the Independence police force.

    According to Loehmann, he voluntarily resigned. According to the Independence Police force, he quit before they could fire him.

    In five short months, Loehmann was deemed “emotionally unstable” and unfit for service as a police officer. In his personnel records, his direct supervisors described him as having a “lack of maturity” as well as an “inability to perform basic functions as instructed.” These supervisors were referring to the disturbing behavior Loehmann exhibited during a weapons training session.

    Loehmann’s worrisome conduct and mental instability when handling weapons would become a reoccurring theme in his personnel files.

    In another training session held at a gun range, Loehmann suffered what was described as an “emotional meltdown.” In a memo sent to Human Resources, Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence Police Department referred to this incident as a “dangerous loss of composure.” Polak noted that Loehmann’s “handgun performance was dismal” and that he was “distracted and weepy” during the training session. After Loehmann’s weapons were taken away by the training officer, he continued his “emotional meltdown” with detailed descriptions of his apparent issues with a girlfriend.
    Deputy Chief Polak’s memo included several additional incidents of worrisome misconduct. He concluded the memo with the following:

    “Individually, these events would not be considered major situations but, when taken together, they show a pattern of a lack of maturity, indiscretion, and not following instructions.”

    “I do not believe time nor training will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”
    In March 2014, after spending two years being denied by every police force he applied to, Timothy Loehmann received an offer from the Cleveland Police Department. They did not check his personnel files.

    A few months later, on November 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM, Loehmann shot and killed a 12 year-old child named Tamir Rice.

    source

  8. Tia Will

    What a double standard.  The doctors discharged her saying nothing was wrong with her and she still informed them that she was having difficulty breathing.  Instead of taking a second look or conducting additional tests they told her to leave.  How is that not negligent.”

    This is not a double standard at all. I am not familiar with the case and so do not know whether the doctors had done all they were able to do or not. I am unaware of a doctor telling a patient that “there is nothing wrong with them”. The doctor may in complete honesty state that they cannot find anything wrong, but that does not mean that the patient does not have a problem, it means the doctor has not been able to determine the cause. We are missing all kinds of information here. What if at the time of discharge the patient had a normal respiratory rate, had an oxygen saturation of 100 % on room air which is perfect, had a normal EKG and chest X-ray, dye studies had been done to exclude the possibility of a thromboembolic event , an ultrasound of her heart to prove it was to enlarged and she had had a normal treadmill test ?  If she was still complaining of difficulty breathing, it would be entirely reasonable to discharge her since she had passed all the tests done for this complaint with flying colors. And if you know what tests could “obviously have been done that would have found the problem” please share with me what they might be. I would be willing to bet that you have never had the experience of walking down the hall with a patient who was going to be discharged in a few hours and had her drop and turn blue right in front of you. I have. Sometimes medical events, such as a mucous plug suddenly dislodged and thrown into a major bronchus can happen almost instantaneously.Yes, there was a bad outcome….but until you can tell me what test they didn’t do that they should have done, it is nothing more than speculation.

    Again, missing something after due diligence in attempting to resolve the issue is not the same as not trying to resolve the issue. Again if you know that they refused to run appropriate tests or refused to do any evaluation at all, then yes, I would consider it negligent and criminal. Short of proof of that, they are not the same situation at all. I was willing to state exactly what steps I believed that the police should have taken. If you can tell me the same for the doctors, I would certainly listen. Otherwise, there is no merit in this comparison.

  9. Tia Will

    zaqzaq

    Would a reasonable doctor call the police in a situation like this?”

    I don’t know. There have been three times in my career when I have called security to have a patient and or their family member removed. All three have been for physical threats made to staff. You have not specified what kind of disruption she was causing. It might or might not be reasonable.

    In one of my instances, the patient that I called security to have removed, although she left before they arrived, had thrown all of the objects on the receptionists desk across the room and had circled back to my office knowing that she was not supposed to be with me unescorted because she had threatened me physically and was doing so again. Yes, she had been complaining of pain. Was I obliged to continue to assess her ( which I had already done) while she continued to physically threaten me and my staff ?  Oh, did I mention that on several occasions she had threatened to have me fired and my license revoked because, surprise, surprise I had refused to prescribe her opiates for breast pain ( something that we never do outside a surgical setting since it is not indicated).  Had she gone outside and had a sudden cardiac event, would that have been my fault ?

    Just too many missing details to decide whether anyone did anything wrong or not in your case. Fill in the blanks, and what you would consider the correct course of action given the circumstances ( specifically, not some nebulous reference to “some other tests”) and I would be happy to reconsider.

    1. zaqzaq

      Tia,

      The video only shows one perspective.  You need to go to the FBI agent’s statement for the real story about the medical treatment of Rice at the scene.  Your personal vendetta against police officers blinds you to the truth.  Much like the mainstream media not reporting these facts.   Bottom line based on the FBI agent’s observations, as trained paramedic, the police officers did not know how to provide medical treatment for Rice’s injuries.  Neither did the firemen who arrived on scene.  The police did not even have first aid kits in their patrol vehicles.  Just out of curiosity did you actually watch the video?  I have.

  10. TrueBlueDevil

    Another analysis which always seems to focus on white-on-black, officer on suspected victim (i.e., Michael Brown)… but rarely do we see the major item analyzed.

    Rarely do we see the consistent, decade upon decade, black-on-black crime analyzed, which is 98-99% of these often inner city deaths. Instead, liberal commentators take the 1% or 1/10th of 1%, where there is a possibility of officer injustice, and analyze that to death – as if that is the predominant urban problem.

    Poverty is the excuse of the left, with little adult, sober analysis. Violence within the family, high rates of non-custodial male violence towards children, gangs activity, violence against women, unruly, dangerous public housing, black-versus-brown violence (both ways), and many other issues go unaddressed. George Soros, Eric Holder, and the like drive an inaccurate picture.

  11. Tia Will

    zaqzaq

    Would you like to retract your statement about the officer’s “lack of basic decency, that neither of them should ever again be on the street as a police officer with a gun” based on their behavior after the shooting?”

    No,  would not like to retract that comment. If the officers involved knew that they did not have even basic first aide skills, then I would see it as their responsibility to know that they should have them even if it is not a departmental demand. There are lots of classes available and I am sure that they could have found one. Fancy equipment is not needed. The plastic gloves would be completely adequate for hands only CPR and for compression. My feelings remain unchanged about their behavior. I have already conceded the point that I do not know anything about the criminal statutes involved. I will stand by everything else I have said.

    On another point. I have no personal vendetta against police officers. I met a perfectly charming police officer who rightfully pulled me over a few days ago for a lapse of attention in which I was speeding. He gave me a very polite verbal warning. I would not have been the least upset if he had chosen to give me a ticket which I fully deserved. I like and respect many of our police officers. However, I do believe that the Rice case represents a case of poor judgement followed by inadequate response to a citizen in need. Again, no vendetta. I do not believe that either should be punished. Just not allowed with weapons on our streets.

    And the answer to your last question is “yes”.

    1. zaqzaq

      Tia,

      It is unreasonable for police officers and fire fighters to go beyond department training to learn how to treat an individual for a gunshot wound to the stomach.  I wonder how many officers in Cleveland have encountered that type of wound where treatment is needed in their careers.  Per your definition of “human decency” that vast majority of our citizens would fail.  Find me a class in Davis that is open to the public on how to treat gunshot wounds.  How about in Yolo County.  Good luck with that.  I suspect a basic first aid class does not cover gunshot wounds let alone gunshot wounds to the stomach.  Should school teachers know that they may need this training in case of a active shooter in a school in order to treat a child?  Do you think that the nice young officer that gave you a warning knows how to treat a gunshot wound to the stomach?  Your position is unreasonable.

  12. Tia Will

    zaqzaq

    Find me a class in Davis that is open to the public on how to treat gunshot wounds.  How about in Yolo County.  Good luck with that.”

    At this point, I cannot tell whether you are honestly not understanding my point, or whether you are just acting obtuse to needle me. So I will act as though you are sincerely attempting to understand my position and try one more time.

    I never stated that the police officers should have attempted to “treat the gunshot wound”. What I stated is that they should have been responsible for making an assessment of the ABC’s of life support and instituting those as necessary. I further stated that they should have donned their plastic gloves and applied pressure over any significantly bleeding wound. That is all I would have expected, but I would have expected nothing less. And yes,  I do believe that there are many, many classes available that teach these very basic and potentially life saving skills. The last such basic course that I took was at the public library.

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