The two Cleveland police officers involved in the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice are telling their side of the story for the first time. In two statements, officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback say they were investigating a report of a "guy with a gun" in a park outside a recreation center on Nov. 22, 2014, when they saw Tamir pulling what they believed to be a real gun from his waistband, per Cleveland.com. Garmback, 47, says he drove over a curb and across a lawn because the park's main entrance blocked cars from entering. Loehmann, 27, says he yelled "show me your hands" three times, then opened fire on Tamir—who the officers believed was an adult, per the AP. "Even when he was reaching into his waistband, I didn't fire,'" Loehmann says, per NBC News. Then "I saw the weapon in his hands coming out of his waistband and the threat to my partner and myself was real and active."
Loehmann's lawyer says his statement was given "against legal advice" since the officer is the target of a criminal investigation and evidence is now being presented to a Cuyahoga County grand jury. She adds, however, it was "in the interest of the investigators having the facts." The statements were read to grand jurors on Tuesday, per the Guardian. Lawyers for the Rice family accuse the local prosecutor of allowing the officers to give "unsworn statements" so as to avoid the "vigorous cross examination" that comes with testifying before the grand jury. "No regular target of a criminal investigation would be afforded this opportunity," they say. They add Loehmann "is suggesting that he observed things and took action that would have been physically impossible for any human being to do in the less than two seconds it took him to shoot this 12-year-old boy." (Read Loehmann's comments from the scene.)