Both Cleveland police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice say the 12-year-old boy was pulling what they thought was a real gun out of his waistband when one officer opened fire, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The officers also explained why they approached Tamir by driving their cruiser over a curb and across the lawn of a recreation center, an approach that some criminal justice experts have criticized as reckless. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty made public the two statements, each two typewritten pages, citing an interest in transparency as he presents evidence in the case to a grand jury.
The statements from Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback mark the first time the public has heard the officers’ side of the shooting that made Tamir’s name a national rallying cry for protesters of police use of deadly force. Loehmann and Garmback were investigating a 911 report of a “guy with a gun” on Nov. 22, 2014. At the time, Tamir had an airsoft pellet gun. Both officers said they thought Tamir, who was 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 195 pounds, was an adult. Loehmann said he yelled “show me your hands” as the cruiser approached Tamir. He repeated the order as Tamir reached into his pants, he said. “I saw the weapon in his hands coming out of his waistband and the threat to my partner and myself was real and active,” he wrote.