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Police Union Boss: Tamir Rice's Family Should Use $6M Settlement to Teach Kids Not to Play With Toy Guns

The head of Cleveland's police union has some advice for the family of the 12-year-old boy who was gunned down by cops while playing with a replica pistol.

by Tess Owen
Apr 26 2016, 6:02pm

Photo via Reuters/USA Today

The head of Cleveland's police union has some advice for Tamir Rice's family on how to spend the $6 million settlement the city has said it will pay them to drop their lawsuit over the 12-year-old boy's officer-involved killing in 2014.

Steve Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association, says Rice's family should use the money to educate children about the danger of playing with toy guns.

Rice was gunned down at a park near his home while he played with an Airsoft replica pistol on November 22, 2014. The two police officers involved in the incident — Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann — were members of Loomis' union, and did not face criminal charges for shooting Rice.

The officers were responding to a 911 call about a person with a gun. Dispatchers failed to communicate to the cops that the caller said that the gun was a toy or "probably fake," and that Rice was most likely a "juvenile." Loehmann shot Rice within seconds of arriving on the scene.

Loomis, who made several controversial statements about Rice in the weeks and months following his death, dispensed his advice to the boy's family on Monday in a letter addressed to "the media."

Related: Cleveland Just Demanded Tamir Rice's Family Pay $500 for His Ambulance Bills

"Something positive must come from this tragic loss," he wrote. "That would be educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm."

In an interview with Politico just months after Rice's death, Loomis insisted that his officers genuinely feared for their lives during the encounter on the playground.

"Tamir Rice is in the wrong," Loomis said. "He's menacing. He's 5-feet-7, 191 pounds. He wasn't that little kid you're seeing in pictures. He's a 12-year-old in an adult body."

"He puts his gun in his waistband," Loomis went on, describing what happened when he officers arrived at the scene. "Those people — 99 percent of the time those people run away from us... The guy with the gun is not running. He's walking toward us. He's squaring off with the Cleveland police and he has a gun."

Loomis wasn't the only one to blame Rice. In response to the federal lawsuit filed by Rice's family, city officials accused the boy of "failure... to exercise due care to avoid injury."

After the Rice killing, a US Justice Department investigation found widespread excessive use of force by Cleveland police. The next day, the Rice family filed their federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the officers involved.

In the settlement documents which were filed in Cleveland court on Monday, US District Judge Dan Aaron Polster, who mediated negotiations, said the city made no admission of wrongdoing in the shooting.

Follow Tess Owen on Twitter: @misstessowen