The family of a 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer while holding a pellet gun last month has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit, according to court filings made public on Friday.
The suit, filed by the family of Tamir Rice, contends police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback acted recklessly and used excessive force when they shot the boy on Nov. 22.
Loehmann and Garmback were responding to a 911 call from an area resident reporting that a juvenile was holding a gun, but the caller also told police that the weapon was "probably fake."
Rice was actually a replica gun that looks realistic but only fires non-lethal pellets.
FOR THE RECORD
Dec. 5, 3:30 p.m.: An earlier version of this story referred to the item Rice was holding as an air rifle. It was actually a pellet gun.
Video of the fatal incident shows the officers driving up to within feet of the startled youth, before Loehmann opened fire, shooting Rice twice at close range.
The suit contends that Loehmann and Garmback failed to follow proper police procedure when confronting Rice, and failed to offer medical aid for several minutes after opening fire.
"The defendant officers had ample opportunity to safely provide clear, unhurried commands to the startled young boy but instead rapidly confronted him with their cruiser and their guns and shot him all within two seconds," the suit reads.
The suit also noted that Loehmann had been deemed unfit for duty by the Independence Police Department in 2012, after supervisors in that agency found him to be unable to follow basic commands. He also performed extremely poorly during weapons training.
Earlier this week, a Cleveland Police Department spokesman said it was not department policy to review the personnel files of a candidate's previous employer, but that policy will likely be amended.
The family is seeking monetary damages, but did not disclose a specific amount.
Calls and emails to a Cleveland police spokesman seeking comment were not immediately returned. Both officers remain on administrative leave, and an investigation into the shooting has been launched.
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