The family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice will receive a $6 million settlement from the city of Cleveland, according to local press.
Rice was shot and killed by a police officer in November 2014 while playing with a toy pellet gun on the steps of a recreation center in Cleveland. A dispatch officer reportedly received a call about someone waving a “probably fake” gun at passers-by. One of the responding police officers shot the child as soon as he arrived on the scene. Rice's death set off widespread protests against police brutality, particularly because he was an innocent, unarmed child playing with a toy. With this settlement, the city, police officers and 911 dispatch staff are admitting no misconduct in his death.
In December a grand jury decided not to indict Timothy Loehmann, the police officer who killed Rice. Prosecutor Timothy McGinty called the shooting a “perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications,” and said Loehmann had reason to fear for his life when he shot the 12-year-old.
“Although historic in financial terms, no amount of money can adequately compensate for the loss of a life,” the family's attorney's said in a statement. “Tamir was 12 years old when he was shot and killed by police—a young boy with his entire life ahead of him, full of potential and promise. In a situation such as this, there is no such thing as closure or justice. Nothing will bring Tamir back.”
The agreement comes a few months after another recent high-profile settlement: the family of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald received a payout of $5 million from the city of Chicago after McDonald's 2014 death. Police officers were caught on video shooting him sixteen times. In that case, the family had not even filed a law suit before the city offered the settlement. That, and other settlements, were seen by activists as an attempt by the city to silence families and control conversations about police brutality. And as settlements in cases like these have piled up across the country the financial cost, in addition to the human toll in the killings of innocent people, is beginning to add up:
As Cleveland.com points out, the settlement doesn't clear up all possible legal issues around Rice's death—a federal review of whether the officers involved in Rice's shooting violated civil rights laws is still underway. But it sends a clear message, especially after the non-indictment of the police officer involved, that the city does not intend to admit that the 12-year-old's death constitutes misconduct.