Police Union Chief on MSNBC: Tamir Rice Shooting 'Justified'

click to enlarge Police Union Chief on MSNBC: Tamir Rice Shooting 'Justified'
Outgoing Cleveland police union president Jeffrey Follmer was on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes last night, discussing the Tamir Rice shooting — one which he called "justified" on the news program — and the kerfuffle over a Browns wide receiver sporting a T-shirt message and demanding justice for Rice and Beavercreek police shooting victim John Crawford III.

The first half of the segment revolved around a choked-up Andrew Hawkins, whose Tamir Rice T-shirt made the police union all cranky this week. He said he sported the message for his son, whose future as a black man in America is of great concern to him.

The Browns have said they won't apologize to the police department on behalf of Hawkins, which only rankled the union and its incoming and outgoing leaders even more.

"We're not apologizing to anybody," Follmer said. "They need to do it to us." ("Do" an apology?)

There was an interesting back-and-forth late in the segment as Follmer was being interviewed by host Ari Melber.
AM: "When you say that he, as we read your statement, doesn't know the facts of the law, how you do apply that logic? Wouldn't that apply to any citizen who may not be a police expert but has some legitimate view of police conduct? Don't you think at a certain point that this kind of reaction risks feeding the perception that some of these police unions or some folks here don't think they're accountable to public views?"

JF: "You know, there's a video of this, and everything speaks for itself. The male's action spoke for itself. The video clearly shows, and by the officers' statement, that they were justified in the, in the deadly force."

AM: "You're saying that the video clearly shows that the 12-year-old boy was an imminent lethal threat to the officers?"

JF: "Oh, absolutely. I don't know if you didn't see it, but yeah absolutely."

AM: "Yeah, we have some of it up on the screen. We're showing it. I mean, there's tremendous disagreement about that. In a lot of cases, that would constitute probable cause for a crime, unless there was lethal, lethal threat to the officers. But ultimately, that isn't your call, is it? And it's not the athlete's call. That's a call that has to go through the criminal justice system. I guess what I'm trying to get at here is from your statements — and the reason why they've upset some people — is your statements seem to presuppose that the police union or the police officers have the final word on the facts here. You know that's not true. You know we have a system here of criminal justice that leaves that decision up to grand juries and the criminal justice process, right? And people are free to talk about it?

JF: They're free to talk about it, but it shouldn't be talked on the football field where we are supporting the Browns by doing security in everyday when we support the Browns. (sic)
And there's more, including a moment where Follmer just says Hawkins is "wrong." 
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Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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