Report: Officer shot Tamir Rice within a second of exiting squad car

Police officers in the Tamir Rice case rolled up and fatally shot him so fast he had no time to hear or respond to any orders they gave, according a report released by Tamir's family.

And, contrary to the officers' version of the incident, Tamir was not reaching for his waistband the moment before Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed him Nov. 22, 2014, according to a report by Jesse Wobrock, an accident reconstruction and biomechanics expert. Wobrock conducted his analysis based on surveillance video of the incident provided by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty. The report was issued late Friday and first reported by WKYC in Cleveland.

A grand jury will determine whether the officers will be charged in the death of the 12-year-old black youth.

Wobrock's report says Loehmann shot Tamir "within less than 1.0 second of exiting the vehicle."

The case has been cited among several police killings that sparked the nationwide "Black Lives Matter" protests. A Cuyahoga County grand jury is hearing evidence to decide if either Loehmann, a rookie cop, or his training officer, Frank Garmback, should face charges in the killing. The two were responding to a report about a man with a gun near a recreation center on a wet snowy day. A dispatcher did not tell them that a caller who made the original report thought the gun was fake. Tamir was carrying an Airsoft gun, which shoots plastic pellets.

Loehmann and Garmback said in their accounts of the incident that they ordered Tamir to show them his hands. They said Tamir reached for his waistband and that they saw a gun.

Wobrock says, however that the video and other evidence contradicts those accounts.

For one, the video does not show Tamir's hands ever coming out of his jacket pockets, Wobrock says.

Also, according to the images and Garmback's statement, the police car windows were up and the doors were closed when they pulled up on Tamir, "so, no audible commands could have been heard by Tamir before Loehmann opened the door," Wobrock wrote.

On the video, only one second passed between when the vehicle door opens, when Loehmann is seen exiting the car, and when Tamir is seen reacting to having been shot, according to Wobrock's report. That means Loehmann had already unholstered and drawn his gun when he exited the vehicle, "because there is simply not enough time for him to have drawn his gun, aimed and fired it in the less than 1.0 second time frame shown on the video," Wobrock said.

Also, Tamir's hands never came out of his jacket pockets, according to an analysis of the video and the locations of bullet holes in his jacket and on his body, Wobrock wrote.

"Tamir Rice did not have enough time to perceive and react to any verbal commands, which is exemplified by the fact that his right hand was still in his jacket pocket at the time he was shot," Wobrock concluded. "It is clear that Officer Loehmann shot Tamir Rice immediately upon exiting the vehicle, such that Rice did not have enough time to take his hands out of his jacket pockets."

Rather than reaching for a gun, Tamir was moving in a defensive manner at the time of the shooting, he wrote.

Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra said the report contradicts the police account of the shooting, and it should be shared with the grand jury.

"The toy gun was not visible to either officer before the shooting and the video shows the claim Tamir reached into his waistband was false because Tamir's hands were in his pocket when he was shot," Chandra said. "The movement of Tamir's elbow and shoulder is Tamir's reaction to being shot."

McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor who now has a copy of the report, said:  "We welcome and will review all credible, relevant evidence from any source. The citizens on the grand jury will make the decision in all use of deadly force cases."

Contributing:  Wale Aliyu of WKYC in Cleveland

 

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