In commemoration of what would have been his 18th birthday, Tamir Rice’s mother opened up about her son’s legacy, and the final day of his life.
“You don’t get over nothing like this,” Samaria Rice told the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s an empty feeling of loss when you don’t have your puzzle complete.”
Tamir was killed by officers from the Cleveland Police Department on Nov. 22, 2014. The 12 year old was playing with a toy gun at a park across the street from his house when a 911 call was placed, resulting in two officers rushing to the scene. Officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed Tamir within two minutes of arrival. Neither Loehmann or the other officer, Frank Garmback, were prosecuted to killing Tamir. Loehmann was eventually fired from the Cleveland Police Department for failing to disclose details about his job at the Independence Police Department where he was deemed emotionally unstable (the firing decision was appealed by a police union). In 2018, Loehmann was hired by another Ohio police department but withdrew his application days later.
Rice, a mother of four and grandmother, recalled the moment that a group of neighborhood children knocked on her door and informed her that Tamir had been shot by police. She didn’t believe them at first, but once she got to the park, Rice saw her son lying on the ground. A group of officers stopped her from going near his body.
In the ambulance, Rice held onto her son’s hand but was told to stop touching him because his body was considered evidence. Tamir died the following day.
“People ask me all the time, ‘How are you holding up?’ I’m telling them I do know that it’s through the grace of God.”
Later in the interview, Rice revealed that the murders of Auhmad Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, all at the hands of white men — some of whom were police officers — took her to a “dark place.” In response to recent protests against racism and police brutality, Rice encouraged demonstrators to take the movement to legislators and the Supreme Court. “Those are the powers that be.”
When asked what her son could have become had he not been killed, Rice shared some of Tamir’s many talents. “He mastered all the sports that could be mastered. So [maybe he would have been] the next LeBron James, Odell Beckham..I really don’t know because he was robbed of that.”
Although the Rice family was awarded a $6 million judgment over Tamir’s murder, the city of Cleveland never admitted wrongdoing. In 2016, Rice founded the Tamir Rice Foundation in her son’s honor. The four-year-old organization champions police reform.
Rice also opened the Tamir Rice Afrocentric Cultural Center, which will house after-school programs focussed on tutoring, mentoring and arts, including music and dance.
“I am building a legacy,” said Rice. “To show people my strength and to show people I have not given up. I have to do this for him. I am his voice.”
See tributes to Tamir below.
#BlackLivesMatter: Wishing a Happy Birthday to Tamir Rice who would’ve turned 18 years old today if Cleveland Police didn’t kill him six years ago while he was playing in the park. Sending Love and Strength to his family and friends. RIP. pic.twitter.com/lCComIuAH9
— COMMON (@common) June 25, 2020
Happy Birthday to Tamir Rice who SHOULD have turned 18 today! 🖤🕊 pic.twitter.com/qMhdZKZUJb
— MoorInfo (@MoorInformation) June 25, 2020
Today would have been Tamir Rice’s 18th birthday. Had a police officer not killed him when he was just 12 years old. Please keep fighting until no more mothers lose their babies this way. pic.twitter.com/12fECeXJeS
— Ashley Nicole Black (@ashleyn1cole) June 25, 2020
Tamir should be turning 18 today. pic.twitter.com/k79jphsQdZ
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) June 25, 2020