Courts and Crime
Monday, November 23, 2015
One year later, Tamir Rice's family still wants answers
The family plans to deliver a petition today asking Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty to recuse himself from the case
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA
The family of Tamir Rice hosted a vigil Sunday, marking one year since the 12-year-old was shot and killed by police in Cleveland. WKSU's Kabir Bhatia reports.
|Tamir Rice's mother, Samaria (holding mic), spoke briefly and encouraged the crowd to get involved with social justice. Tamir's cousin, Latonya Goldsby (next to Ms. Rice), said Samaria is ready to cooperate with a request to testify before the Grand Jury in her son's murder|
|Courtesy of K. Bhatia|
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|On a cold, gray November day – not unlike the day Tamir was killed -- about 250 people gathered at Cudell Rec Center on Cleveland’s west side. That’s where police responded one year ago to a call about a man waving around a gun. It turned out to be Tamir Rice holding a realistic-looking toy gun, and officer shot him within two seconds of arriving. Since then, the area where he was shot has been awash in stuffed animals, candles and signs. A small stone garden was put in a few weeks ago, featuring stones and painted signs about Tamir Rice.|
But one thing that has not changed fast enough for some is the investigation into the events leading to Tamir Rice’s death. Many people at the vigil want Prosecutor Timothy McGinty to recuse himself, including Tamir’s cousin, Latonya Goldsby.
“It’s very disheartening to hear the insults that have come from his office. It’s also disheartening to see that he has taken a whole year for this process to take place.”
She’s referring to the city’s response that the 12-year-old’s death was "directly and proximately caused" by his own actions, when the Rice family filed a civil suit. Mayor Frank Jackson quickly apologized for that wording, and since then there have been three independent reports issued by the prosecutor’s office stating that the shooting was reasonable.
Three independent reports
Tracy Richardson, a friend of the Rice family, disagrees.
“I don’t know much about the independent reports. The only thing I know is what I’ve been hearing, and no one’s satisfied at all. They’re so open-ended. They’re not at a point where a person can read it and say, ‘OK, I feel justification.’ It’s just not there.”
She also wants McGinty to recuse himself, while the Rev. Jerome McCorry says the issue is about the entire process of selecting public officials.
“We keep voting the same folks in: we vote for judges, we vote for prosecutors, we vote for mayors who hire police chiefs. We even vote for sheriffs! And we have to become more educated and make sure that everything we do absolutely counts. That’s the beginning. There also has to be dialogue.”
Police have reached out to community members since September for a semi-regular series of meetings at Cudell, but none as well-attended as the Sunday vigil for Tamir Rice. It began with his mother, Samaria, briefly thanking the audience for attending.
“I thank you guys for all the warm love and thoughts as well. I encourage you guys to get involved in a movement and I’m fighting for justice for all our children.”
After that, great-aunt Michelle Thomas remembered Tamir.
“I always called all the children my chickens, because I love them so much and I try to keep everybody safe and give them good advice. Every time I get too upset, or cry too hard, I’d be like, ‘I love you Tamir, I hear you speaking to me, my baby chicken.’ I can hear that boy saying ‘Auntie Michelle I love you, too, but I am not your chicken, I’m a rooster!’”
Calls for recusal
It was one of the few light moments on a somber occasion, and Tamir’s cousin, Latonya Goldsby, closed by reminding everyone that at 1 p.m. today, community activists and the Rice family are marching to the Justice Center with a 300,000-signature petition asking Prosecutor McGinty to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor.
Cleveland’s police union says officers have testified before the Grand Jury in the case, which has been meeting for several weeks. Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, has been asked to testify and a family spokesman says she is willing to cooperate.
Although no city officials appeared to be at the vigil, Goldsby did have a message for Timothy Loehmann, the police officer who shot Tamir Rice last November 22.
“Tell him to enjoy his holiday. Because we won’t.”