Lawyer: Filing blaming boy for his own death was insulting

AP News
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Posted: Mar 03, 2015 7:24 PM
Lawyer: Filing blaming boy for his own death was insulting

CLEVELAND (AP) — The mother of a 12-year-old who had a pellet gun when he was fatally shot by Cleveland police said Tuesday that the city was disrespectful of her son by suggesting he died as a result of his own actions.

Tamir Rice's mother addressed the city's response to her family's lawsuit a day after Mayor Frank Jackson apologized for wording in a court document in which the city's lawyers said the boy died as a result of his own actions.

Samaria Rice said she also wants an apology for her son's death. "I have not yet received an apology from the police department or the city of Cleveland in regards to the killing of my son. And it hurts," she said.

Benjamin Crump, one of the family's attorneys, said the city law department's wording was shocking and disrespectful. The mayor apologized Monday for the wording in the document, saying it was poorly worded and offensive.

The court documents filed late last week by the city said Tamir's injuries and the subsequent complaints for damages stemmed from his actions and failure "to exercise due care to avoid injury." It similarly said the "injuries, losses and damages" cited for his relatives in the complaint "were directly and proximately caused by their own acts," not by the city.

The city plans to alter the wording in the documents, the mayor said. "We are sincerely apologetic for our misuse and mischaracterization of our answer to that complaint," he said.

Another Rice family attorney, Walter Madison, said the city's response suggests that children should act like and handle all situations like adults.

Tamir was shot in the abdomen by an officer responding to a call about someone with a firearm near a recreation center on Nov. 22. The officer fired within two seconds of the police car stopping nearby, and the confrontation was captured on surveillance video. Tamir had been carrying what turned out to be an airsoft-type gun that shoots non-lethal plastic pellets.

The federal lawsuit alleges excessive force, negligence, infliction of emotional distress on his sister and mother, violation of due process for the parents and failure by the responding officers to immediately provide first aid to the boy, who died the next day.

The Cuyahoga County sheriff's department is investigating the shooting. A prosecutor has promised that a grand jury will consider whether the case merits criminal charges.