"Tamir Rice of Cleveland would be alive today had he been a white 12-year-old playing with a toy gun in just about any middle-class neighborhood in the country." That's the assertion put forth by the New York Times editorial board as it argues that the entire case swirling around the gunned-down Cleveland boy shows "utter disregard for the lives of the city's black residents." That disregard, per the editorial, took the form of everything from the 911 call's initial "miscommunications"—word that Tamir was probably carrying a fake gun never reached the officers—to the police department's failure to check out officer Timothy Loehmann's questionable work history, to the PD's own "well-documented reputation for wanton violence and for shooting at people who posed no threat to the police or others."
The editorial cites a Justice Department report it says "shows clearly why the black community viewed the Cleveland police as dangerous and profoundly out of control." It also takes to task the officers' demeanor immediately after Tamir was shot (no medical assistance was given by Loehmann or his partner, Officer Frank Garmback) and the fact that Garmback tackled Tamir's 14-year-old sister when she tried to rush to her brother's side. And as for statements made by prosecutors that seem to place the fault for Tamir's death squarely on Tamir himself? "These arguments sidestep the history of violent, discriminatory police actions that led up to this boy’s death," says the editorial. Read it in full here. (A grand jury declined to indict either officer.)