Spero News

Cleveland police kill boy, now demand payment for ambulance ride
Thursday, February 11, 2016
by Martin Barillas
Cleveland OH has filed a claim against the estate of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy who was shot to death by police in 2014. The creditor’s claim is for unpaid emergency medical fees. A $500 fee is being levied for emergency medical services rendered to Rice, said the claim which cited the Ohio Revised Code.
The claim shows that $450 is owed for emergency medical services, including an ambulance, while there was another $50 charged for mileage.
Tamir Rice was playing with a toy pellet gun when he was shot to death by a Cleveland police officer who allegedly thought that Rice was armed with a real pistol.  Police Union President Steve Loomis expressed outrage upon hearing the news of the creditor claim. Referring to the Rice’s family lawyer, Loomis said "Subodh Chandra and I have never agreed on anything until now," and added, “It is unconscionable that the city of Cleveland would send that bill to the Rice family.” Loomis continued, saying, "Truly disappointing, but not at all surprising."
"The callousness, insensitivity and poor judgment required for the city to send a bill ... is breathtaking," attorney Chandra said. "This adds insult to homicide." He said that Rice’s mother considers the bill for the medical service provided to her dying son amounts to a form of harassment. 
In December 2015, a grand jury decided not to indict the two responding police officers in the case. However, a federal review is ongoing. The Rice family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Cleveland. In response to the suit, in its 41-page response, the city said that the boy died when he failed to “exercise due care to avoid injury." A spokesman refused to comment on the ambulance bill.
It was on November 22, 2014, when the boy was in a public park near his home in Cleveland. CCTV footage revealed that he was pacing back and forth while occasionally pointing his pellet gun. A neighbor called 911 to report on Tamir. A recording of the emergency phone call recorded "The guy keeps pulling it in and out," the caller said of Tamir. "It's probably fake. But you know what, he's scaring the s**t out of people."
Police arrived at a gazebo in the snow-covered park. Two officers descended from their car. One of them, who his defenders say feared for his life, fired two rounds at Tamir within two seconds. Police claim that Officer Timothy Loehmann – who was in training – had shouted verbal commands at the boy from inside the car. However, witnesses did not sustain the assertion.
The distraught mother was soon on the scene. Police told her to calm down or she would be arrested. Her 14-year-old daughter was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car. Tamir was taken to hospital where he expired the next day. 
On February 11, Hillary Clinton chimed in on Twitter about the ambulance bill charged to the Rice family, saying it is "heartless."

Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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