This past November, Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann jumped out of his car and fatally shot twelve-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing in the park with a toy gun. He and his partner Frank Garmback then tackled his 14-year-old sister who was coming to the boy’s aid, handcuffed her and put her in their vehicle, and then just stood around for a few minutes until an FBI officer arrived and finally attempted lifesaving procedures on the boy and called for an ambulance. The boy died in the hospital later that night.
Naturally, Loehmann and Garmback will not face criminal charges.
Now, the City of Cleveland has decided that the family owes them some money! Assistant law director Carl Meyers filed a claim against the Rice family on Wednesday for $500 for “ambulance advance life support” and mileage!
Let’s review this, shall we? A police officer can shoot your kid because he’s playing in the park with a toy gun–as kids are wont to do–leave him dying for four minutes before you even bother to try to perform any life-saving procedures or call an ambulance, and then–because they eventually call EMS after it’s too late, the city can then file a claim against you for the $500 that cost them.
In marketing, they’d call that “vertical integration.” In life, it’s called “motherfucking disgraceful.”
The really messed up thing? That’s the system we have. This is business as usual. This is how things work in the United States. This is what everyone who opposes single-payer is fighting for, and yes, I’m going there. Because this wasn’t just a gross move by a gross city. Every awful thing that happened in this situation is the result of larger systemic problems.
Tamir Rice was shot because these officers saw a black kid and thought he was a threat–though it would not have happened if he was a white kid who looked like a threat, because those officers would have employed different tactics for fear of a lawsuit. They look at a white kid who looks “threatening” and think “I don’t need that headache” and they look at a black kid who looks “threatening” and they’re not worrying about that. A racist assumption of a lack of economic and social power is what contributed to Rice’s death.
The family is being charged this $500, because that’s what happens when someone shoots you. Now, you can sue them to get them to pay that money for you, but the way it currently works is that it’s your problem to get it taken care of either way. If it’s anything like this situation where the officers were not found to be responsible (even though they obviously were), good luck with filing that lawsuit!
It’s not that way in other countries, where medical care is publicly financed and considered a human right. Here, in America, our priority is not providing medical care to people as a human right, it’s ensuring that insurance companies and hospitals get to make lots of money off of people who need medical care.
If you think this situation is horrific, if you think it’s disgusting that this family is being charged $500 because an incompetent, racist cop who was previously considered “unfit for duty” by another police department shot their innocent kid, then maybe it’s time to think about the fact that it’s our own system that is horrific and disgusting.
Original by: Robyn Pennacchia