Kaptur, Brown, Beatty, Ryan Press Dept. of Justice to Reopen Civil Rights Investigation into Shooting Death of Tamir Rice

April 23, 2021
Press Release
In 2014, 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice was Playing in a Cleveland Park when Police Fatally Shot Him; Data Shows Young Black Americans like Rice are More Likely to Die from Police Gunfire than Young White Americans

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), alongside U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Representatives Joyce Beatty (OH-3) and Tim Ryan (OH-13) today penned a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to immediately reopen its civil rights investigation into Tamir Rice’s death.

 

On November 22, 2014, Rice was playing in a park in Cleveland, Ohio, when someone called the police on him, an experience all too familiar to Black Americans. Officers arrived on the scene to find Rice playing with a toy gun by himself in the middle of a park. Within moments, an officer fired upon Rice, striking and killing the 12-year-old boy. Standing by himself in the middle of a park, Rice did not pose an imminent threat of bodily harm.

 

“Tamir Rice should be alive today,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.

 

They continued: “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. Justice delayed is justice denied, and accountability for Tamir Rice’s death has been delayed for more than six years.”

 

The lawmakers’ full letter to the DOJ appears below and HERE:

 

Dear Attorney General Garland:

 

Tamir Rice should be alive today. We write to urge the Department of Justice (DOJ) to immediately reopen its civil rights investigation into his death.

 

On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice was playing in a park in Cleveland, Ohio, when someone called the police on him, an experience all too familiar to Black Americans. Officers arrived on the scene to find a boy playing with a toy gun by himself in the middle of a park. Within moments, an officer fired upon Tamir, striking and killing the 12-year-old boy while the police car was still rolling.  Standing by himself in the middle of a park, Tamir did not pose an imminent threat of bodily harm. Let us repeat: Tamir should be alive today. Data shows that young Black Americans like Tamir are more likely to die from police gunfire than young white Americans.

 

It is also important to consider the context in which this incident occurred. In March 2013, DOJ conducted a review of 600 use-of-force incidents involving the Cleveland Police Department that occurred between 2010 and 2013. Based upon this review, DOJ found reasonable cause to believe that the Cleveland Police Department had engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, violating Ohioans’ rights under the Fourth Amendment.  They found a wide range of systemic deficiencies, including a lack of accountability, inadequate training, ineffective policies, and poor engagement with the community.

 

In 2015, the Obama Administration’s DOJ opened federal investigations into both the officer that shot and killed Tamir Rice and the entire Cleveland Police Department. The latter resulted in a consent decree between DOJ and the Cleveland Police Department. While this consent decree is an important tool to prevent instances like this from happening again, it did not provide accountability for Tamir’s death. 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.

 

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.

 

Sincerely,

 

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kaptur.house.gov