It’s been five months since Tamir Rice – the 12-year-old gunned down by an Ohio police officer for playing with a toy gun – died, but the ongoing investigation into his death has produced no charges for the cop involved in the fatal shooting.
The stalled investigation has not only taken an emotional toll on Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, and her children, but a financial one as well. According to the Washington Post, Rice was forced to move into a homeless shelter because she can no longer live near the park where her son was shot to death.
The standstill is also holding up the civil lawsuit the family filed — the Post writes that the City of Cleveland has asked the Rice family to halt the civil suit until the official investigation has concluded.
In a court filing dated Monday, Rice’s family said they cannot agree to hold off on their lawsuit until the investigation is complete in part because they are worried that crucial evidence could be lost. In addition, they said, the elongated pace at which the investigation is moving is causing them sustained distress.
“The incident has shattered the life of the Rice family,” the motion stated.
Rice’s mother, the motion goes on to state, has moved into a homeless shelter. “In particular, Samaria Rice, Tamir Rice’s mother, has since been forced to move to a homeless shelter because she could no longer live next door to the killing field of her son,” the motion said.
Worse, the family of the 12-year-old has yet to bury him due to concerns over an additional medical examination.
“Plaintiffs are incurring expense daily and are unsure if they can finally rest Tamir Rice due to the pending investigation,” the motion filed by the family reads. “A stay would exacerbate this expense and emotional distress.”
The young child became yet another symbol of the horrors of police brutality when he was fatally shot by officer Timothy Loehmann in November 2014. Loehmann, who shot Tamir less than two seconds after exiting the police cruiser, maintains he thought the child was carrying an actual firearm.
A 911 caller who dialed in to report the firearm told the dispatcher that the gun was “probably” fake.
At a news conference Monday, Rice family attorney Benjamin Crump appealed to allow the family to continue with the civil lawsuit, remarking on the tragedy that led to a 12-year-old becoming “the face of police brutality in America.”
“We come here to Cleveland, Ohio, brothers and sisters, where we had video capture the whole entire episode of what happened to claim this baby’s life,” Crump said. “And yet, after five months and counting, no one has been charged, no one has been held accountable for the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.”
To assist the Rice family during this difficult time, you can contribute to a verified GoFundMe or send letters of encouragement. Details, made public by activist and social worker Feminista Jones, can be found here.