Cleveland Mayor: Sorry for Blaming Tamir Rice

Documents will be re-worded soon, Frank Jackson says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 2, 2015 6:15 PM CST
Cleveland Mayor: Sorry for Blaming Tamir Rice
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson discusses a US Justice Department report on the city's police department during a news conference in Cleveland Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014.   (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Cleveland's mayor apologized today after the city's lawyers suggested in court documents that a 12-year-old boy who had a pellet gun when he was shot by police died as a result of his own actions. Mayor Frank Jackson says the city's response to a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Tamir Rice's family was poorly worded and offensive. "We used words and we phrased things in such a way that was very insensitive," the mayor says. 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.

Jackson says he's talked with representatives of Tamir's family, and that the city plans to alter the wording in the documents within the next three weeks. "We are sincerely apologetic for our misuse and mischaracterization of our answer to that complaint," he says. The city said in response to the federal lawsuit that it didn't violate Tamir's federal rights and that it is entitled to certain legal immunities. One of the family's attorneys, Walter Madison, told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that the complaint has merit. "I do believe that a 12-year-old child died unnecessarily at the hands of Cleveland police officers and I do believe that certain officers shouldn't have been entitled to wear the uniform," he says. Tamir was shot in the abdomen by an officer responding to a call on Nov. 22. (More Cleveland stories.)

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