Tags: Gun Control | cleveland | police | shooting | black | Tamir Rice | 12 years old

Cleveland Police Chief: More Black Officers Not the Solution

By    |   Friday, 23 Jan 2015 08:26 PM

In his first national interview since a white Cleveland police officer fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November, Police Chief Calvin Williams told "60 Minutes" that more African-American officers will not heal the rift between white police departments and minority communities.

"Diversity is always at the forefront of what I'm trying to do in this city," Williams, who took over the department last February, told interviewer Bill Whitaker on the CBS News program.

The interview will air on Sunday.

"But if you come from the premise that only an African American can police other African Americans, then we're all doomed to failure," said Williams, who is black and has been a police officer for 29 years.

In November, Rice was shot twice within seconds by Timothy Loehmann, 26, who joined the force last March, after he and another officer, Frank Garmback, 46, an officer since February 2008, arrived in response to a 911 call that a man was pointing a gun at people.

Rice, who was playing with a pellet gun, died the next morning in a local hospital.

Video from nearby security cameras show Garmback, who drove the police cruiser, tackling Rice's 14-year-old sister as she ran to help him. She was later handcuffed by the officers.

Williams had said that Rice's toy gun could not be distinguished form a real semi-automatic pistol. The shooting is being investigated by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office.

Two weeks later, the Justice Department slammed the Cleveland Division of Police in a scathing report that found that officers use guns, Tasers, pepper spray, and their fists excessively — unnecessarily or in retaliation. The report was posted on Cleveland.com.

Officers have also used excessive force on those "who are mentally ill or in crisis," the Justice Department said in the report, which resulted from an investigation lasting nearly two years, CNN reported. The department is now being monitored by a federal court judge.

Rice's death follows incidents that claimed the lives of Michael Brown, 18, who was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died after a white New York City officer placed him in a chokehold. Both Brown and Garner were unarmed.

Reports later surfaced that Loehmann, the rookie officer who shot Rice, was turned down for at least four jobs with local police or sheriff's departments before he was hired in Cleveland. He also resigned from another local department after a poor performance review.

In his "60 Minutes" interview, Williams would say only that that the circumstances surrounding Loehmann's hiring were under investigation.

"Those are things that are under investigation — that we're definitely taking a second, a third, and a fourth look at," he said. "We know some of the things that happened in that process, and we're — even at this moment — changing the way some of that is done."

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In his first national interview since a white Cleveland police officer fatally shot Tamir Rice, 12, in November, Police Chief Calvin Williams told "60 Minutes" that more African-American officers will not heal the rift between white police departments and minority communities.
cleveland, police, shooting, black, Tamir Rice, 12 years old, chief, williams
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2015-26-23
Friday, 23 Jan 2015 08:26 PM
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