As Cleveland authorities and communities still try to sort out the aftermath of 12-year-old Tamir Rice's death, Cleveland.com asked Attorney Ian Friedman to impartially review possible charges the police officers responsible might face. Attorney Friedman was also joined by professor and former prosecutor Martin Belsky to breakdown the six possible charges proposed by a Cleveland Municipal Court judge earlier this month.
On November 22, 2014, witnesses called 9-11 and reported that a young man was brandishing a gun at Cudell Recreation Center. With that information from dispatch, officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback raced their squad car up to a gazebo where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was sitting and—within seconds—shot him. The weapon Rice had on him was later discovered to be a pellet gun that strongly resembled a pistol.
In the Cleveland.com piece, Attorney Friedman and Professor Belsky review six possible criminal charges: aggravated murder, murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide, and dereliction of duty. Of the key factors in many of these theoretical charges are the officers' intent and whether or not that acted appropriately given the information they had.
Other key details include:
- The fact that squad car sirens were not on
- The fact that no witness accounts include the officers saying anything to Rice before firing
- The fact that the dispatch report to the officers confirmed Rice had a firearm
- How officers are trained and conditioned to respond to potentially lethal situations
Many Details—Few Answers
In Attorney Friedman's analysis, one thing was made clear: the abundant details of incident do not lend themselves to easy answers. In both the theoretical prosecution and defense strategies parsed, many had viable evidence to support its reasons.
"They [defense counsel] could try to show that Loehmann was put in an impossible situation when Tamir reached for his waist, where the gun was known to be, leaving him with no choice," Attorney Friedman offered while considering a hypothetical murder charge. Demonstrating the ambiguity of the evidence, however, Friedman later offered this for the theoretical reckless homicide charge: "I think [prosecutors] are going to say... they [police] did not have to go in like that. Had they stopped farther away and given their orders, Tamir would still be alive."
If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, then we implore you to contact Ian N. Friedman now. A dedicated and sought-after litigator, Attorney Friedman has built his reputation as a premier Cleveland criminal defense lawyer with his track record of favorable results for his clients, even in difficult, high-profile cases.
You do not have to face your charges alone—get the advocacy you deserve. Contact our firm for a free consultation today.