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VIDEO: Shooting of Tamir Rice by Police Goes to Grand Jury

VIDEO: Shooting of Tamir Rice by Police Goes to Grand Jury

Police had been dispatched to “guy with a gun” call, and Rice reached for apparent weapon

Last November Cleveland Officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in a city park.  The investigation by law enforcement has now been completed, and the case is being handed over to prosecutors and a Grand Jury, reports CNN and other sources.

The Cleveland police officers had been dispatched to the scene by 911 because of calls received that someone–ultimately determined to be Tamir Rice–was walking around the park pointing a gun at people. At least one call to 911 reported “a guy with a pistol” walking around the park.

The same caller purportedly also told 911 that the gun was “probably” fake, but according to dispatch recordings released by law enforcement this additional information was not communicated to the responding officers.  Even if it had, no police officer could reasonably be expected to risk his life on the firearm identification skills of an anonymous caller to 911.

Indeed, the surveillance video (below the fold, and annotated by the author) clearly shows Rice openly handling an apparent pistol (seemingly spinning it on his finger cowboy-style at the 1:20 mark), placing and removing it from his waistband (e.g., at 2:00 mark), and even apparently pointing the gun-like object at passersby. There are at least 10 occasions captured by the grainy footage of the surveillance video in which Rice is openly displaying the apparent gun in some fashion.  To an actual observer at the scene, the handling of the gun would have been far more apparent.

When police pulled up to his location, they say Rice immediately reached for the apparent gun in his waistband (highlighted in the photo below, and seen at the 7:27 mark in the video), and they engaged him with defensive fire.

Tamir Rice reaches for gun in waistband

Tamir Rice reaches for gun in waistband

The weapon would, upon later examination, prove to be a pellet or airsoft gun.  Of course, a police officer (and anyone else acting in self-defense) is permitted by law to respond to the reasonable perception of an object as a deadly weapon, and it matters not if the weapon later turns out to be unloaded or incapable of firing or a pellet gun or a toy.

Indeed, unnamed sources within the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s investigation of the event are telling reporters that the findings of their investigation do not support bringing charges against Officer Loehmann, according to ABC-newsnet5 in Cleveland, with the source stating that their “investigation and evidence shows the lack of evidence to support that a crime was committed in the shooting of Tamir Rice.”.  (h/t to always excellent for this portion of the story.)

At this point the  Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office has turned its investigation into the shooting of Tamir Rice over to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, which will decide whether to put the matter before a Grand Jury.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

ADDENDUM [6-4-15, 10:00]:  It occurs to me it might be worth recalling how the release of the autopsy report in the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson last year exposed the falsity of the “hands up” and “shot in the back” narratives being advanced by street activists in that case:

New #Ferguson: “forensic evidence … lent credence to Officer Wilson’s version of events”

Michael Brown Autopsy A Further Blow To #Ferguson Racial Narrative

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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.


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JackRussellTerrierist | June 4, 2015 at 5:27 pm

This one’s a total no-brainer. GJ? AYFKM?

More cowards.

Poor Andrew, you must be writing under pressure…

CORRECTION: This post previously referred to the “Baltimore Sun Times,” in error. The name of the paper has been corrected to “Baltimore Sun.” (h/t commenter gitarvarver)

gitarcarver helped with the correction on your other post today.

So I’m even more grateful that you expend time and effort on your informative and very useful posts.

    Haha, thanks for the heads up.

    Not to get in the weeds, but I usually copy-and-paste the whole signature part of the post from the previous post. Caught up the correction from the last point this time. 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Having never seen that video before, my first impression was that, tactically, as a supervisory LEO, that would have scared me.

Rolling up that close to a kid reportedly with a gun could have meant that two of my officers were DRT…dead, right there.

    jdmac44 in reply to Ragspierre. | June 4, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Glad to hear it. I was wondering about that myself. I was thinking a little distance would give them a little more time to assess the situation. Monday morning quarterback, I know.

      Char Char Binks in reply to jdmac44. | June 4, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      No. Rolling up that close gave them cover, a sound tactic. Of course, the SJW are using it against the cops, as they would use parking on the street and walking up to the gazebo against them., or any other course they could have taken as long as it ended with a disparate impact on a life that matters.

        DaveGinOly in reply to Char Char Binks. | June 4, 2015 at 11:55 pm

        “Rolling up that close” gives nothing but proximity, something you don’t necessarily want. Just because you’re close doesn’t mean you have cover. Pulling up broadside to the potential threat was a mistake, as Rags implies. This would have been appropriate if there was only one cop in the car, as the driver would then have the car between himself and the threat when he exits on the far side of the vehicle. But because there was a cop on the near (passenger) side of the vehicle, that officer was put in a disadvantageous position. The proper way to roll up on this threat would have been to face nose of the car to the threat, so both officers would have their vehicle doors between themselves and the threat (for what little protection car doors provide).

        The way the officer drove up on the threat also put both officers in the potential line of fire. Driving up nose-first would have positioned the officers at two different angles to the threat, confounding any single “firing solution” on the part of the threat, creating potential confusion in the mind of the subject (“Who do I shoot first?” – could buy a fraction of a second, sometimes the difference in a gun fight), and buying time for at least one officer should the threat actually materialize.

          Char Char Binks in reply to DaveGinOly. | June 5, 2015 at 1:57 am

          They couldn’t go nose first because of the configuration of the street, grass, posts, and gazebo, and possibly because of the snow. Rolling up close at least gave the passenger cover from his door, which is better than nothing, and much better than walking 20 or more yards completely exposed to fire.

ya gotta love the MFM and their narrative: “OMG, the cops killed a 12 year old child…”

which, of course, conveniently ignores the fact that this “child” was, IIRC from another post, 5’7″ tall and weighed ~190#s.

IOW, the cops were coming up on an apparent adult with a gun, not a kid with an obvious toy.

    Ragspierre in reply to redc1c4. | June 4, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Not to mention that there are gangs and cartels who specifically recruit kids this age as assassins on the hope their youth will save them from prosecution for their crimes.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to redc1c4. | June 4, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    While not clear that the person is an “apparent adult”. it is clear that the person is not a “munchkin”.

    From other reports, the guys gun was supposed to have a piece of orange near the barrel to let people know it was a toy. ( Yeah, like I would not shoot because I saw a bit of orange–whose to say that was not painted on by the guy to fool his victims? ) That part was removed.

      Char Char Binks in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | June 4, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      I’ve heard of perps doing just that, and I know they can buy a can of blaze orange at a hardware store for about $5.00, or steal it.

      DaveGinOly in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | June 4, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      If the “weapon” was in the subject’s waistband, an orange muzzle wouldn’t have been visible to the officers even if it hadn’t been removed.

      And an orange muzzle wouldn’t matter.

      Someone points an orange muzzle at my wife or children, they might well hear a loud noise. And not from THEIR gun.

      Anybody can buy some orange paint, slap it on a muzzle. Bad guys are known to try to doctor real guns to look like fakes, to buy them that extra edge.

      Anyone who doesn’t want to get shot simply shouldn’t do ANYTHING that looks like they’re trying to shoot people.

      Not all that complicated. 🙂

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        DaveGinOly in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 5, 2015 at 12:18 am

        In other words, requiring orange muzzles on toy guns is a completely useless exercise.

          tom swift in reply to DaveGinOly. | June 5, 2015 at 1:16 am

          Non-firearms which nevertheless “fire” can be classified as

          (1) Those which are not routinely “fired” at people—BB guns, pellet guns, and miscellanea, such as spearguns. These are not routinely fired at people, but used rather for hunting, pest control, target shooting, plinking, or collecting. These are generally not marked in any special way. The hunting guns, spear guns, and target guns don’t look terribly much like real guns. But the plinkers and collector “guns” are often amazingly close visual replicas of real Lugers, Broomhandles, Makarovs, Tokarevs, Nagants, Webleys, 1911s, M14, SAA Colts, etc—good enough to convince an expert from a couple of feet away.

          (2) Those which are “fired” at people—water pistols, paintball, and AirSoft. These are another story; one might find kids running around and shooting these at each other. Something clearly marking them as “non-guns” is not an entirely ridiculous idea.

          Water pistols have been made in unusual colors—neon green, pink, orange— for several decades. I recall when all the stores had M1928 Thompson water guns in nice regulation Auto-Ordnance black. But that was the ‘6os; they don’t make them that way now. Even the very realistic ones come only in Christmas-candy colors. They can, of course, be painted to look very realistic.

          Paintball guns don’t look much like real guns; they look more like paint sprayers. So little chance for confusion there.

          AirSoft guns can be as realistic as some of the BB and pellet guns. HK, AK, M-16, M-4, MG-42, Kar-98k, STEN gun, “artillery” Lugers, PPSh, Thompson, etc lookalikes are common and very realistic. Those are the ones which the Feds require to have orange muzzle tips. Or, more accurately, orange muzzle tips are needed if the “guns” are to be shipped in interstate commerce. What happens when they’re in the hands of the consumer is not so clear. I have it on not terribly reliable authority that when police and military units use AirSoft guns for training, there’s not an orange muzzle to be seen.

          MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to DaveGinOly. | June 5, 2015 at 12:11 pm

          @tom swift

          I should point out that paintball guns with special loads of garlic and holy water are very effective against vampires. ( Thank you Jim Butcher. )

          I mention the orange, because it was mentioned in several stories that the gun came with an orange tip that was removed.

      Estragon in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | June 5, 2015 at 6:31 am

      So cops roll up and his instinct is to pull out his toy gun?

      Sounds like the spawn of a long line of Obama voters.

Andrew, you may want to change your headline to “…MAY go to grand jury”, since I’m not seeing anything that says it has or will.

    Sadly, I can’t readily change the headline. I did correct the text prior to publication, but the headline has all kinds of social media URL search engine implications that I simply don’t understand, but know I need to stay away from.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 4, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Say, Andrew, what do you think of the proximity of the car and the kid as a contributing factor in this shooting?

      Seems to me that “distance = time” to at least a fair extent.

        We’re talking about guns. They throw chunks of lead over distance at speed.

        Anything within maybe 20 yards is essentially contact distance for a handgun (much longer for that for long guns), and a suspect reaching for an apparent gun in his waistband MUST be dealt with decisively NOW.

        If the cruiser had pulled up at the curb, would have been exactly the same tactical imperative. Suspect reaches for apparent gun in waistband, car’s not going to outrun bullets, need to engage with defensive fire instantly.

        The call was made by the suspect reaching for the apparent gun when confronted by clearly identifiable law enforcement.

        It was the wrong call.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 4, 2015 at 9:03 pm

          I don’t disagree in any particular.

          But if I were a LEO type trying to learn a better tactical approach, I think I’d want my officers a ways away from a potential shooter.

          Oh, sure, distance favors the better marksman. It would have been more prudent to set up at distance, move in with patience.

          Were I the Chief, I might deem the officer’s tactical decision making too faulty to warrant retention. But then most cops are not trained very well tactically.

          But the bottom line is that the cruiser pulling up too close to Rice is not what killed Rice.

          Rice reaching for an apparent pistol is what killed Rice.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 4, 2015 at 9:30 pm


          Like I said above, seeing that video for the first time gave me a pucker moment…for the LEOs. If that had been a real gun…

          That fatal shot can happen THIS quick:

          Just takes an instant, a wrist-flick, and you’ve taken a round through the head.

          Every cop everywhere has seen scores of videos like this. They all KNOW this, viscerally.

          And in any trial, the defense will bring up use-of-force expert witness to testify to this.

          Any wonder why it’s hard to convict most cops on unlawful use of force charges? Once jurors see what the job of being an LEO entails in terms of use-of-force–both affirmatively by the cop and the risks they face from the suspect–almost impossible to get 12 people to unanimously find against him.

          There are, of course, cases where cops are genuinely in the wrong, appropriately prosecuted, and properly convicted. Bad cops exist, just like bad people of all categories exist.

          But police are the people we HIRE to USE force, and FACE force, on OUR behalf, and the threshold for finding their conduct criminal under those circumstances is appropriately high.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 4, 2015 at 10:47 pm

          @Rags, but the cops are not just there to survive a shootout.

          There goals are to:
          1) Survive a potential shootout.
          2) Disarm a wacko waving a gun around. ( At the very least. )
          3) Arrest the wacko.

          Keeping their distance could result in the suspect escaping, and crazy guy loose in the community with a gun.

          MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 4, 2015 at 10:54 pm

          I like to use recommend this video

          it’s purpose isn’t to show how fast a shooting can happen, but it is effective at that.

          That’s a good video clip, Mouse, thanks for that, I can make use of that one.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 4, 2015 at 11:27 pm

          What killed Rice is what kills a lot of them: stupid, SINGLE, entitlement-mentality momma not supervising her overgrown ‘kid’.

          DaveGinOly in reply to Andrew Branca. | June 5, 2015 at 12:11 am

          In a gun fight, distance is your friend – distance magnifies small aiming errors (exacerbated with handguns because of their limited sight radius – small aiming errors are more difficult to notice and therefore more difficult to correct) that can make a miss out of what would be a fatal shot at closer range.

          It is especially friendly to the participant with the most training (and therefore more likely to be able to shoot accurately over that distance), having the more accurate and/or powerful weapon (although the ability to shoot accurately is decidedly more important – e.g. Garland, Texas), and to the person(s) in the most tactically advantageous position (having a team mate, being under cover, having body armor, etc.).

          A more sound tactical approach to this situation could have prevented the loss of life. Also, if I recall correctly, initial reports of this incident variously said that Rice was ordered to “freeze” and to “drop the weapon.” Because there were two officers, it’s possible that he was ordered to do both, and was attempting to obey one of the commands when he was shot.

The NPR stations are running a story about “activists” who oppose “police brutality” and “broken windows policing.”

They say they want “community policing.”

I nearly laughed out loud in my car.

I was living in the DC area when DC was having a wave of violence. There were a couple of incidents where people got shot for the big sin of being stopped at a traffic light. DC initiated community policing. That is, they hired police officers from the bad neighborhoods, trained them, and sent them back to their home neighborhoods. It worked.

Ten years later, I read the news that a disproportionate share of these neighborhood police officers had been involved in violent incidents, and a number of them were washed out of the police force for “police brutality.”

It could be that the local talent who knew the bad guys since high school were intolerant of the criminals, or it could be that the criminals were a little extra willing to mix it up with people they knew as kids.

I concluded that community policing works, but it carries an extra burden of head-knocking, which is exactly what the “activists” do not want.

    davod in reply to Valerie. | June 4, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    I lived in DC during that time. For a number of years they were locking up numbers of the new policemen because they were still in gangs and moving drugs or just plain into criminal activity.

      Something like half the illegal guns seized by DC police during this period HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN SEIZED BY DC POLICE. In other the words, MPD was turning around and selling the seized guns on the street. Several times per gun, I guess. Heck of a business model.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    Ragspierre in reply to Valerie. | June 4, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    “Community policing” is often used as a euphemism for “minority hiring” as a bias (i.e., racial discrimination).

    IIRC there were crime waves in New Orleans and Miami that came as a direct result of those cities adopting that policy.

    Any person of good character and the other stuff, of any race, can be a fine LEO. But you don’t drop standards to fill quotas.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | June 4, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Gee, why not? After all, they do it at all levels of “education” and public sector hiring.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Valerie. | June 4, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Isn’t that what they are doing in Baltimore right now?
    ( In case anyone missed it, I am engaging in hyperbole. )

The young man deserves a Darwin Award.

The county prosecutor has made a policy to take all fatal police shootings to the grand jury. With his remarks during the Brelo trial I would not be surprised that there would be an indictment for something.

Missouri CCW | June 5, 2015 at 2:52 pm

I wonder if the prosecutor will pull a Bob McCulloch and bring the evidence to the GJ but with no charges.