(Reuters) - Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson apologized on Monday to the family of a 12-year-old boy who city lawyers blamed in part for his own fatal shooting by police responding to a report of an armed person in a park last November.
The language used in the city’s response to a lawsuit brought by the family of Tamir Rice was “very insensitive” and an amended court document will be filed within 20 days that preserves the city’s rights, Jackson told a news conference.
The court filing asserted as a defense for the city that Rice’s “injuries, losses, and damages complained of, were directly and proximately caused by the failure of plaintiffs’ decedent to exercise due care to avoid injury.”
Jackson said he was apologizing to Rice’s family and to the city’s residents for what he said was a poor choice of words in the city’s response filed on Friday to the family’s lawsuit.
“In an attempt to protect all of our defenses, we used words and we phrased things in such a way that was very insensitive to the tragedy in general, the family and the victim in particular,” Jackson said.
An attorney for the Rice family, Benjamin Crump, on Monday criticized the city’s response to the federal lawsuit.
“I don’t want him just to apologize for the poor word use,” Crump said on CNN. “I want him to apologize for the death of this 12-year-old child.”
Rice’s shooting came at a time of heightened scrutiny over the use of force by police around the United States, including Cleveland.
Rice was holding a replica handgun that mainly shoots plastic pellets when he was shot by a Cleveland officer within seconds after police responded to a report of a suspect brandishing a handgun in a city park. He died the next day.
Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Eric Beech