On Monday, a U.S. District court ruled that the city of Cleveland must pay $6 million to the family of Tamir Rice. His relatives filed the wrongful death suit after a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against the rookie officer who shot the 12-year-old boy. The circumstances of the boy’s death were not in dispute, as surveillance footage showed the officer shooting Rice seconds after arriving on the scene. The boy had been playing with a pellet gun.
The settlement was divvied up to grant $5.5 million to Rice’s estate with $250,000 apiece going to Rice’s mother and sister. The damages are understood to account for the reckless behavior of the police and also the emotional distress suffered by Rice’s family. However, the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association president, Steve Loomis, thinks the family should use at least part of the money to educate youth on gun safety:
The usually talkative Loomis issued a news release that said “we can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms.
“Something positive must come from this tragic loss. That would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm,” the release continues.
This suggestion, while possibly well placed, may not sit well. Gun safety education is never a bad idea, but one would hope some education lands upon the parties responsible for Rice’s death. Naturally, that would include the shooting officer and his trainer. Not only were shots fired on an unarmed tween boy, but first aid was delayed for several crucial minutes. In addition, details from the emergency call records revealed that the person who made the initial 911 call thought a toy gun could be at play, but that information never got passed onto the officers. Lots of balls were dropped in this case. Educating children on gun safety may not have saved Tamir Rice’s life.