CLEVELAND – For the first time since the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, statements from the officers involved in the Nov. 22, 2014, shooting have been released.
Officer Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann gave statements to investigators a few days after the shooting. Videos of those statements have been released by Subodh Chandra, the attorney representing the Rice family.
During Garmback’s statement, he became emotional at times, and wept.
“He’s barely breathing and there is no rescue squad there,” Garmback said.
He told investigators he asked dispatchers several times to send EMS crews.
“Finally, I’m holding it, holding it, fire comes up ... they are walking so slow. Other units who were on scene tell them to speed it up, get over there, they still walk slow,” Garmback said.
The officers were dispatched to Cudell Recreation Center on a Saturday afternoon in November 2014, after someone told police a male was waving a gun.
“We heard over the radio they were in need of a car at Cudell Rec Center for a male with a gun, pointing at passerbys,” Loehmann said. “While en route, Frank, being my field training officer, said, 'you know, this is a call with a male with a gun.'”
Loehmann said Garmback told him how to be prepared for the worse case scenario.
Garmback said he told the rookie officer to get his gun on his lap.
Loehmann said when they got to the recreation center, he spotted the male.
“He looks at me, he lifts up his shirt, and he takes his other hand and reaches down and, like, pulls up ... begins to pull up a weapon, a black gun,” Loehmann said.
He also said he yelled at Tamir to drop the gun.
“I started screaming verbal commands, 'put your hands in the air,' 'put your hands in the air,' 'let me see your hands,' 'freeze,' 'put your hands in the air.' I said numerous times,” Loehmann said.
But Chandra said he and Tamir’s family disagree with Loehmann’s account. Chandra said according to videos released from the Cudell Recreation Center, he doesn’t believe there was enough time for Loehmann to yell all those demands before he fired his gun. He also said that Loehmann’s testimony is inconsistent with a letter the officer gave the grand jury.
“The Rice family doesn’t believe these two should have badges and guns,” Chandra said.
A grand jury did not indict the officers.
However, they both face administrative charges.
Officer Timothy Loehmann faces administrative charges which include disorderly, immoral, or unethical conduct while on duty, and fraudulent conduct or false statements in any application or examination for a position in the Civil Service of the City. None of the administrative charges against Loehmann are related to the actual shooting.
Officer Frank Garmback is accused of administrative charges that include neglect of duty, incompetent or inefficient performance of duties, and for failure of good behavior, which is detrimental to the service. The charge letter states he did not "employ proper tactics when he operated the zone car up to what was reported to be an armed suspect."
Atty. Henry Hilow, who represents the officers, says he doesn’t believe the two violated any rules or regulations.
“Based on their own evidence, it shows these officers did nothing wrong,” Hilow said. “It begs the question: Why doesn’t the city come forward to back their officers on their independent investigation that they did nothing wrong when it comes to use of force?”