A 911 dispatcher who took a call that led to a white police officer’s fatal shooting of a 12-year-old black boy outside a recreation center has been suspended for eight days.
Police Chief Calvin Williams found in a disciplinary letter dated March 10 that Constance Hollinger violated protocol the day of the shooting of Tamir Rice, who had been playing with a pellet gun. Tamir was shot within seconds of a police cruiser skidding to a stop just a few feet away from him in November 2014 outside the Cleveland rec center. The city’s internal disciplinary charges accused Hollinger of failing to tell the dispatcher who sent the officers to the rec center that the man who called 911 about “a guy” pointing a gun at people also said it could be a juvenile and the gun might be a “fake.” That omission was cited by former Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty as a crucial mistake that impacted how officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback responded.
Loehmann shot and killed Tamir less than two seconds after they arrived. McGinty said the shooting might have been avoided if the information from the 911 caller had been properly relayed to the officers. Cleveland safety director Michael McGrath handed down a two-day suspension for police officer William Cunningham, who was working off duty without permission at the rec center, in a disciplinary letter dated March 10.
A message seeking comment on behalf of Hollinger and Cunningham was left for the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association. Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, said in a statement issued Tuesday by her attorney that Hollinger’s eight-day suspension was “unacceptable.”