An open letter to Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office:
Dear Mr. Pinkney,
I am writing to request that the family of Tamir Rice has the opportunity to receive a fair and independent legal review that allows them to receive justice in the killing of their son.
We all saw the footage of the officers stopping their car near Tamir and shooting him within an instant. Poor Tamir probably wondered what they were responding to. He likely never thought that someone would call the police thinking that the toy gun in his hand was real. To put it bluntly, Tamir did not receive adequate opportunity to process that he was the target of the police stop, much less respond to what has been portrayed in the media as a "verbal warning" given to him by the responding police officers.
I am a wife, sister, daughter and cousin to many black men who have been erroneously perceived as a threat by law enforcement officials, simply because they are African Americans. My male relatives have served honorably in the military, have authored books, have graduated from high school and college, have made substantial contributions to their communities and nation, yet they are never free of the stereotypes about black men that make them vulnerable to profiling wherever they might be in the United States.
Tamir Rice was clearly profiled that ill-fated day. As a young black boy he never had a chance. What's worse is that he will never receive an opportunity to realize his potential in life. That has been taken away from him by an officer with a questionable history of service in law enforcement.
In addition to meting out true justice in the Rice case, I ask that you consider lending your support to independent investigations and legal reviews in the case of police-involved shootings. As you well know, when police investigate themselves it introduces a natural bias that can undermine truth and the pursuit of justice. Similarly, the relationship between prosecutors offices and the police are often so intertwined that it's likely impossible for the DA to render unbiased results. In these instances, it would be in the best interests of both the police department and the state's attorney to have an independent process that enables Americans like the Rice family to receive a fair and impartial investigation and hearing of their case.
I for one am very glad that the cameras caught the full extent of what happened to Tamir. It was an eye opener about how young black men are treated by some police officers in this nation.
If you have any children, you should just ask yourself one question: If what happened to Tamir happened to your child, would you want to receive justice through a fair and unbiased process? Would you want to have to wait this long for a determination in your child's case? Would you let law enforcement officials and their unions portray their actions as justified in light of the fact pattern associated with this case?
Tamir Rice was a little boy with hopes and dreams just like your young relatives. I am hopeful that you will see him as the child that he was and give his family the dignity, respect, truth and justice they deserve.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my views and to make my request. I am prayerful that I and others with similar requests are heard.
Maya Rockeymoore, Ph.D.
Center for/ Global Policy Solutions