Cleveland cop says shooting Tamir Rice was his only option

The Cleveland police officer who killed Tamir Rice said he had no choice but to shoot the 12-year-old boy.

“He reached for the gun, and there was nothing I could do,” Officer Timothy Loehmann said in a 224-page report published on Saturday by county prosecutor Tim McGinty. His office intends to present the case to a grand jury this year.

Last Thursday, Municipal Judge Ronald B. Adrine ruled there was probable cause to charge Loehmann with murder and several other offenses. The judge also found probable cause to charge Loehmann’s partner, Frank Garmback, with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.

“He reached for the gun, and there was nothing I could do.”

The judge cannot issue a warrant for the officers’ arrest, however, without a complaint from the prosecutor’s office.

In a statement, McGinty said Saturday’s report, compiled over four months by county sheriff’s deputies, was release in the interest of transparency.

“If we wait years for all litigation to be completed before the citizens are allowed to know what actually happened, we will have squandered our best opportunity to institute needed changes in use-of-force policy, police training, and leadership,” said McGinty in the report.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent interviewed for the report stated that Loehmann appeared “distraught” after the shooting.

“He seemed like a guy that was put in a very difficult situation and had to make a very quick decision based upon what he believed was an imminent fear of death or serious physical injury to himself and reacted to it,” investigators were told.

Another officer said that the BB gun Rice had allegedly been playing with near the Cudell Recreation Center looked “1,000 percent real.” Officials say the orange safety tip that would signified it was just toy had been removed.

None of the witnesses to the shooting would back up Loehmann’s claim that he “shouted verbal commands” at Rice before firing, the report states.

It has also been revealed that Rice spoke to an FBI agent before dying. The agent, who heard about the shooting while following up on a bank robbery nearby, provided first-aid to Rice and asked one of the officers for assistance.

The officers had no formal first-aid training beyond CPR nor were their cars equipped with first-aid kits, an official reportedly said. The FBI agent told investigators the officers looked “almost like shell shock; like they didn’t know what to do.”

“I asked him his name, which he replied to me—told me,” the agent said about his interaction with Rice. “And then he said that he was shot, and he made a reference to his, uh, regarding like a gun or a question like, ‘Where’s my gun?’ … I can’t remember exactly what it was.”

When Loehmann shot Rice, he was between four and a half and seven feet away, the report concluded. 

Photo via David Holt/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.