When Officer Timothy Loehman saw sixth-grader Tamir Rice with a toy gun he did what any police officer would do: open fire. As per police practice, neither Loehman, nor his partner Frank Garmback, rendered any medical assistance to the boy. Rice died the next day.
Rice’s family sued the city of Cleveland. The city responded that, “Plaintiffs’ decedent’s injuries, losses, and damages complained of, were directly and proximately caused by the acts of Plaintiffs’ decedent, not this Defendant.” The city also asserted that it has legal immunity from this form of lawsuit, which is typically true.
Think on that. Throughout the United States, by and large, cities and individual officers are protected from lawsuits that involve noncriminal police shootings. In other words, unless a police officer is convicted of shooting a person illegally – very rare due to the broad scope of what is considered a “good shoot” – they cannot be sued.
Yes, the shooting of this boy is actually called a “good shoot” in cop lingo.
The lawsuit, then, is not an effective weapon against police brutality. It cannot be used to put pressure on politicians, cities, police departments or single officers. A police officer never has to think twice about taking a shot, because they are taught from the academy that they, as well as the city and department, are immune to civil litigation.
File this away with no legal remedy to police brutality.
As an aside, Timothy Loehman also had a bad record with his previous employer, the Independence Police Department. His “handgun performance was dismal” and he “was not mentally prepared to be doing firearm training.” Loehman suffered a “emotional meltdown” over issues with a lover and needed to be calmed down, stating at one point, “I have cried every day for 4 months about this girl.” Multiple similar incidents occurred, showing “a pattern of a lack of maturity, indiscretion, and not following instructions.”
Cleveland: 12-year-old’s death his own fault