In November 2014, police shot and killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was outside a recreation center playing with a toy pellet gun.
Yesterday, the city requested $500 as the boy’s “last dying expense” for the cost of providing medical services to the boy.
“The callousness, insensitivity, and poor judgment required for the city to send a bill—its own police officers having slain 12-year-old Tamir—is breathtaking. This adds insult to homicide,” Subodh Chandra, the attorney for the boy’s mother, Samaria Rice, said.
“Subodh Chandra and I have never agreed on anything until now,” police union President Steve Loomis told CNN. “It is unconscionable that the city of Cleveland would send that bill to the Rice family.
The story took off on social media, of course. But today, the mayor of Cleveland backtracked. He said the bill was automatically generated and someone should have caught it. He promised discipline action if it’s warranted.
It’s not the first time cities have tried to recoup money for the cost of killing someone, The Atlantic says:
It’s hard to know just how common it is for a city to bill the family of a victim of police violence. In one similar case in 2012, the city of New York billed Laverne Dobbinson $710 for a dent in a police car. The car struck and killed her son Tamon Robinson; an officer was chasing him after spotting him trying to steal pavers. After public backlash, a law firm collecting the debt dropped its effort. A New York Police Department spokesman told The New York Times, “We don’t know any instance where we send letters like that. I’m not sure how it came out.”
Just this week, a Chicago officer filed a suit requesting $10 million in damages from the estate of Quintonio LeGrier, a college student he shot and killed on December 26.
The bill for Rice’s death consisted of $10 for each of the five miles it took to get him to the hospital, and $450 for advanced life support in the ambulance that took him there, the NY Times said.