Two-and-a-half years after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was gunned down in a park by a Cleveland police officer, the investigative interviews of the two cops have been made public by Cleveland.com.
Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback were the two policemen on the scene at Cudell Recreation Center on Nov. 22, 2014, when Tamir was killed. In two separate videos, each officer is interviewed by homicide detectives and internal-affairs officers. The interviews were conducted “within days” of the shooting, according to Cleveland.com.
In the first video, Garmback says that he told his fellow officer, Loehmann (a rookie), how to prepare himself for the call. He breaks down in tears several times during the video and describes pulling Tamir’s sister away from the body so that she wouldn’t have to see the body. He also describes calling EMS several times. Garmback describes Tamir’s death in excruciating detail, recounting the final minutes of the boy’s life.
In the second video, Loehmann—the officer who actually fired the shots that killed Tamir—is more stoic. He reveals that he had been “on the streets” for about a month but was still in his training phase.
His statements about the shooting conflict with his written testimony. In the video, he says he opened his door before the cruiser came to a stop, but in his statement to the grand jury, he claims to have waited until the car came to a full stop. The internal-affairs officers also question how he could hold both the door and the gun with his dominant hand.
Loehmann states that he saw the gun (which turned out to be a toy) but does not say Tamir pointed the gun at him. He says that Tamir was walking away but turned around, lifted up his shirt and reached for the weapon.
“And I fired two shots,” Loehmann explained. “The threat just became incredible. I had to make the decision fast because Frank and I were in immediate danger. If the subject did pull out the gun and point it towards us, I would have been shot and possibly my partner. … Plus, I was stuck in the doorway and my partner was still seated in the driver’s seat. So we were basically sitting ducks.”
A grand jury found Loehmann’s use of force to be justifiable, but he still faces charges for failing to notify the Cleveland Police Department that he lost his previous job because of issues that his employers say demonstrated his emotional instability.