As if the family of slain 12-year-old Tamir Rice hasn’t endured enough, the head of the Cleveland police union has now suggested a portion of the family’s $6 million settlement should be earmarked to educate youth about the finer points of gun safety.
“We can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms,” penned Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, in a media statement.
Following the announcement of the settlement, this effrontery request amounts to a slap-in-the-face to Rice’s family — especially considering the conditions of the child’s death.
Consider the fact police gunned down the young child on November 22, 2014, while he was in a public park playing with a toy gun — because, the police claimed at the time, they mistook him for an adult. While any number of arguments could rightly be proffered to counter such a premise, perhaps the most striking is the fact that Ohio permits open carry by responsible, adult gun owners.
In other words, not only was Tamir doing nothing wrong in actuality, he also was doing nothing wrong in legal theory at the time he was killed.
Indeed, though a grand jury inexplicably failed to indict the officers involved in Tamir’s death, police stand as the only culpable parties in the slaying.
In June last year, a judge reviewing the case and video evidence stated he was “still thunderstruck by how quickly [that] event turned deadly” and that video footage of the incident was “notorious and difficult to watch.” Tamir was killed by police less than two seconds after they arrived on scene. The 12-year-old, the judge noted, had “little if any” time to react to alleged commands from officers, and made no “furtive movements” before being gunned down by police.
For Loomis to now suggest the already-suffering family should be the party responsible for helping educate youth about guns wholly ignores the obvious incompetent handling of firearms by police.
Perhaps Cleveland Police would be better served slating their own funding for educating officers on the perils of employing unjustified deadly force — particularly in a state where law-abiding citizens retain the right to carry such weapons, themselves.
Such hubris from law enforcement speaks tellingly to the ongoing epidemic of police violence in the United States, as well as to police attitude concerning civilians they’re ostensibly tasked with protecting.
“We have maintained from the onset this has been an absolute tragedy for the Rice family as well as our involved Officers and their families, said Loomis. “Our hearts continue to be with them.”
Really? Were their hearts truly in compassion with the family, would such an arrogant — not to mention laughably ironic — letter really be wise? There has been an ongoing attempt by Cleveland law enforcement to blame Tamir for being killed by police — and this is yet another effrontery example of such useless and unfounded propaganda.
“Something positive must come from this tragic loss,” Loomis’ brief and insulting letter continues. “That would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm.”
Given all the extenuating circumstances in Tamir’s case, it’s arguably a better focus for youth education would be the dangers civilians face from a half-cocked and trigger-happy law enforcement culture — and how to avoid summoning them at all costs.
No, the family of Tamir Rice should absolutely not bother with a farcical gun education program for youth. But if law enforcement wishes to prevent such a reputation-ruining, unjust, and needless tragedy in the future, they might want to consider taking responsibility for their actions. And maybe, just maybe, consider educating officers on the laws they’re supposed to enforce.