Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Union President Jeffrey Follmer shared tough words with Ari Melber regarding the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on MSNBC’s All In Monday night, defending the actions of Officer Tim Loehmann and concluding that unwavering compliance from citizens is necessary to avoid death at the hands of police.
Tamir Rice was shot and killed by Loehmann- an officer who was declared too emotionally unstable to continue working at his former department in Independence- seconds after he and another officer encountered Rice. The video of the incident appears to have contradicted the account given by police, who had said that officers told the boy to put his hands up several times.
The beginning of the discussion between Melber and Follmer was focused on the story of Cleveland Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins, who wore a shirt that read “Justice for Tamir Brown and John Crawford” last Sunday. Follmer had expressed his disgust over Hawkin’s choice of clothing and sent a statement to NewsNet 5 in Cleveland that said “It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field.” Follmer also demanded an apology from the Browns.
The discussion gradually shifted to the shooting of Rice. “Don’t you think at a certain point that this kind of reaction risks feeding the perception that some of these police unions or some folks here don’t think they’re accountable to public views?” asked Melber.
“You know, there’s a video of this, and everything speaks for itself. The male’s action spoke for itself. The video clearly shows, and by the officers’ statement, that they were justified in the deadly force,” said Follmer.
“You’re saying that the video clearly shows that the 12-year-old boy was an imminent lethal threat to the officers?” Melber asked.
“Oh, absolutely. I don’t know if you didn’t see it, but yeah absolutely,” Follmer replied.
“What do you think about the concern people have, that folks are being killed in some cases by officers when there’s less than a lethal threat posed?” Melber asked Follmer later on.
“How about this? Listen to police officer’s commands, listen to what we tell us, tell you, and just stop,” Follmer said. “I think that eliminates a lot of problems. I have kids too, they know how to respect the law, they know what to do when a police officer comes up to them. I think the nation needs to realize that when we tell you to do something, do it. And if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. If you’re right, then the courts will figure it out.”