CLEVELAND — Cleveland City Council voted Monday afternoon to formally consider whether to ask the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to reopen its investigation into the 2014 shooting and killing of Tamir Rice, 12, by a former Cleveland police officer.
The first reading of the resolution passed the council unanimously. It will be further discussed at next week's Cleveland City Council finance committee hearing. It will then go to the full council later that day for a final vote, a spokesperson for Cleveland City Council said.
The resolution follows a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on April 23 from Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Tim Ryan, Rep. Joyce Beatty and Rep. Marcy Kaptur asking for the civil rights case to be reopened immediately.
"The DOJ’s investigation into the officer that killed Tamir was not completed by the end of President Obama’s term, and the Trump Administration abruptly closed the investigation in 2020, providing very little insight or information about the process," the letter reads. "Justice delayed is justice denied, and accountability for Tamir Rice’s death has been delayed for more than six years. Therefore, we strongly support the request of Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, that DOJ reopen its investigation into her son’s case."
During Monday's Cleveland City Council meeting, the resolution's sponsor, Councilman Kevin Conwell, blamed the Trump administration for dropping the investigation.
"I am going to say why he closed it, because he’s an African American male and he didn’t care about him," Conwell said. "Someone must care about Tamir Rice. It’s our duty to care about Tamir Rice."
On Nov. 22, 2014, Rice was playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center in Cleveland. He was shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann seconds after Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, arrived. The officers had been dispatched to the recreation center after a man drinking beer and waiting for a bus called 911 to report that a “guy” wa pointing a gun at people. The caller told a 911 dispatcher that it was probably a juvenile and the gun might be “fake,” though that information was never relayed to the officers.
On April 14, 2021, Rice's family requested the DOJ to reopen the case.
“The truth is this case is tragically simple. Tamir Rice was a boy. On November 22, 2014, he was doing something many boys enjoy: playing with a toy gun in a park near his house,” attorneys for the family wrote in the letter.
The shooting sparked community protests about the police treatment of Black people, especially after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer or his partner. Rice was Black, and the police officer who shot him was white.
“I’m still in so much pain because no one has been held accountable for the criminal act that took his life,” Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, said in a statement. “I’m asking DOJ to reopen the investigation into my son’s case; we need an indictment and conviction for Tamir’s death.”
On the same week the Rice family sent the request to the DOJ, Loehmann's attorneys filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court to get his job back.
Cleveland fired Loehmann in 2017 not for killing Tamir but for providing false information on his job application. An arbitrator and a county judge upheld his dismissal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.