At this point, the only responsible approach from local media is to treat all official comments as either outright lies or minor manipulations.
Lies like these should be considered unconscionable anyway, but the extent to which police have been constantly changing their story since Tamir's death should continue to cast serious doubt on the division's leadership (both within the City of Cleveland and within the union).
In a story published Friday afternoon
by the NEOMG, Police Union President Steve Loomis told reporter Cory Shaffer that the actions of officers Garmback and Loehmann, revealed in an extended cut of the Cudell Rec Center video published yesterday, were necessary to control a "chaotic" crime scene. Officers knocked Tamir's 14-year-old sister to the ground, handcuffed her and threw her in the back seat of a police cruiser for 30 minutes.
"Loomis said in hindsight the officers' actions might seem "insensitive" to some, but Garmback and Loehmann had no way of knowing the girl was Tamir's sister, and that they were trying to preserve evidence," the story reads.
No way of knowing that the girl was Tamir's sister?
So what are we to make of this new video, courtesy of Treyvon Osborn and recently published by NBC News, in which Tamir's sister is clearly heard wailing: "YOU KILLED MY BABY BROTHER! YOU KILLED MY BABY BROTHER!"
That sounds perhaps like an insignificant detail — maybe the officers couldn't make out her words, or thought "brother" wasn't necessarily literal????? — but it follows a lengthy string of police lies, of leadership repeatedly changing the official narrative to reflect more favorably on responding officers.
Recall that originally, officials had said Tamir was sitting with a group of people in the Cudell gazebo (untrue); that a responding officer got out of his car to deliver an order three times (completely untrue); that officers Garmback and Loehmann thought Tamir’s gun was real because the orange tip had been removed (clearly an ex post facto observation, because the tip of the gun was never visible to them); that the original command had been “drop your gun” (conveniently changed to “put your hands up” when video showed that Tamir was only reaching for something in his waistband, not wielding a weapon).
Now we're told Garmback and Loehmann had no possible way of knowing the teenager writhing in agony on the ground shouting about her dying brother was Tamir's sister.
In one of the more bulshitty responses we've received recently, a police spokesperson told us (when asked about the latest contradiction) that "this investigation was turned over to the County Sheriff’s Office. Questions regarding the investigation should be directed to the CCSO."
GIVE ME A BREAK.
City officials lately have been talking about restoring trust in law enforcement. But that appears to be an awfully long way off. It's also clear that in the consent decree negotiation with the Department of Justice, one imperative discussion needs to be the consistent, accurate reporting of use of force cases.
This is an outrage.
Why must the Cleveland Division of Police, and its union, continue to fabricate information regarding their ghastly response to Tamir Rice?