The City of Cleveland will be forced to pay up for the actions of a few cops in the end after all — to the tune of $6 million. The agreed settlement was on the part of the city to avoid Tamir Rice’s family from continuing to pursue a civil rights trial against the city, one that they very likely could have won given the facts of the case. The police who killed the twelve year old will still be off the hook, however.
The incident in question took place back in November of 2012. Tamir Rice was playing in the park with some friends and had an airsoft pellet gun. A bystander called police, and told them that Rice was playing with a “fake gun.” Police arrived on the scene and, instead of investigating, one unleashed a hail of bullets on the child.
What followed was a botched attempt at a coverup by the police department and the city. They wrapped up their investigation without even bothering to ask the officers involved a single question during the six month probe. Add to that some questionable reports given by the police following the initial incident, and the fact that Rice was black, and Cleveland had a mess on their hands.
Not ones to take responsibility for their actions, the city cleared the cops of any wrongdoing in October, stating that the shooting was justified on the grounds that the police are trigger happy and prone to being frightened easily. Okay, those weren’t the exact words, but it’s pretty much what the report said in layman’s terms. You can read it here for yourself.
That the city was justifying what would be considered murer had it been done by anybody without a badge did not sit well with Rice’s family, nor anybody in the community who believed that police should serve and protect. Cleveland has seen intermittent protests throughout, and the Rice family sought a civil rights case.
The prospect of a civil rights case seemed to scare the bejesus out of the city, probably because it would have been a fully external process immune to the tampering and lackadaisical investigatory work they were accustomed to. In fact, it scared them so much that they are paying out a cool $6 million to the family in the hopes of making it go away.
While the family is glad that the city is being punished for their actions, it still highlights the growing epidemic of police violence in the United States. Nearly 1,200 people were killed last year alone by police, most of them people of color, and many of them innocent of any crime. 42 cops were shot to death in the same timeframe, so to say they fear for their lives is like saying lions should be scared of wildebeests because wildebeests have horns.
For now, Cleveland and other cities are content to simply buy their way out of trouble with 7-figure settlements. But the country is reaching a breaking point on the issue, and citizens are only able to take so much. Either way, trust in police is at an all-time low, and it seems to be justified.