Will the Cleveland Community and Law Enforcement Start to Heal?

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Blame it on the decline of race relations in this nation. Blame it on the tension created between the community and law enforcement. Blame it on whatever you want to blame it on, but a twelve-year-old child should never have been shot and killed in the park while playing with a toy gun. Now, all of the “second thoughts,” and “if only I could have, would have, should have,” will begin, but they will not restore the life of this young man. Hopefully this tragedy will go a long way to start the healing process for this community.

The Tragedy of the Tamir Rice Story

On November 22, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio, two officers responded to a dispatch call that a young black male was sitting on a swing in the part, and that he was pointing a gun at people. There was an apparent miscommunication between dispatch and the responding officers that failed to identify the “man” as a juvenile and that the gun was probably “fake.” Moreover, the gun, which was a replica of a firearm, lacked the orange safety marking identifying the gun as a toy. The responding officer fired two fatal shots at the child, who died the following day. This incident received national and international notoriety during a time when tension between the communities and law enforcement was already strained beyond the point of further tolerance.

A Wrongful Death Claim Against the City of Cleveland

Thereafter, in December 2014, Tamir Rice’s family filed a wrongful death claim against the responding officers and the City of Cleveland alleging that the defendant officers failed to approach Tamir and properly investigate the 911 call reporting that he was brandishing a gun in the park. Many things were put into place that day that ending with a young man losing his life. Some may say that the racial element played a key part in this tragedy. Some may say that the immense tension between the community and law enforcement played a much larger key in this tragedy. Suffice it to say, there can be no “do over.”

Settlement of the Wrongful Death Came Against the City

Recently, Cleveland and the family of Tamir Rice reached a settlement of the wrongful death lawsuit, and the city on behalf of the taxpayers of Cleveland agreed to pay into the Tamir Rice estate, the sum of $6 million over a period of two years.

No easy fix can be seen here. Keeping our children safe from harm is the paramount duty of all parents. Without appearing to be paranoid, it is not difficult to envision a similar situation like this playing out in other communities as long as you have the element of law enforcement and community “mutual” mistrust coming together to form a “perfect storm.” Perhaps the fix must start with the communities and law enforcement coming together to heal whatever problems exists between them so that Tamir Rice will not have died in vain.

Wrongful death lawsuits are always at the tailend of a tragic loss of life. Protecting our loved ones, especially children, is not an easy task. Assigning fault in such cases may appear easier than it is in the long run. When the dust settles, you will want to obtain the assistance of an attorney to help you through the process. You will need an experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel working for you as soon as possible. For a consultation, please contact the VanNoy Firm online by clicking here, or give us a call at 937-952-5043 or Toll Free.



About The Author

Anthony S. VanNoy

Trial Attorney

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