Partner of cop who shot Tamir Rice: "I didn't know it was a kid"

CLEVELAND -- The partner of a Cleveland officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice recalls pleading for a faster response from medics as the wounded boy’s condition worsened.

The newly public recorded police interviews were done within days of the November 2014 death of Rice, who’d been playing with a pellet gun, according to Cleveland.com

In one video, Officer Frank Garmback chokes up as he describes spotting the suspect with an apparent handgun before his partner, Timothy Loehmann, fired at the boy within seconds of their police cruiser skidding to a stop. Garmback pauses, puts his hands over his face, then says quietly: “I didn’t know it was a kid.”

The shooting unfolded after Garmback and Loehmann responded to the recreation center for report of a “guy” pointing a gun at people in the area. The caller told a 911 dispatcher that the suspect was probably a juvenile and the gun might be “fake” -- information that was never relayed to the officers.  

The officers told investigators that Loehmann shouted three times at Tamir to raise his hands before he fired his weapon. 

Disciplinary charges recommended against Garmback and Loehmann were sent to the city’s safety director, but their police union ultimately found that the officers did nothing wrong.       

A grand jury declined to indict the officers. However, they are facing administrative charges not directly related to the shooting.

The dispatcher, Constance Hollinger, who violated protocol on the day of the shooting was subsequently suspended for eight days.  

Police Officer William Cunningham, who was working off-duty without permission at the rec center where Rice was shot, also received a two-day suspension, according to Cleveland safety director Michael McGrath. 

The killing has become part of the national outcry about minorities -- especially black boys and men -- dying at the hands of police.