Cleveland mayor apologizes for Tamir Rice ambulance claim

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Cleveland Mayor Claims No Bill Was Ever Sent To Tamir Rice's Family

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The city of Cleveland apologized on Thursday for its role in preparing a $500 ambulance services claim against the estate of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot by police in November 2014, and said it was withdrawing the demand.

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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said the city gave the claim to the estate's executor out of legal obligation because he asked for it. A lawyer for the Rice family said the executor had made a routine public records request that should not have generated such a claim.

City officials said they did not and never intended to send a bill to the Rice family. "Again, apologizing to the Rice family if in fact this has added to any grief or pain that they may have," Jackson told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

Rice, a black child who was playing with a replica gun in a park, was shot by a white police officer. The child's death helped fuel the national debate over police use of deadly force, especially against minorities.

After the Rice killing, a U.S. Justice Department investigation found widespread excessive use of force by Cleveland police. The next day, the Rice family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and officers involved.

See photos from the case:

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Tamir Rice, 12yo boy shot by Cleveland police
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Cleveland mayor apologizes for Tamir Rice ambulance claim
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/11/22: Kids with Tamir Rice signs. Stop Mass Incarcerations Network sponsored a children's march demanding accountability on the one year anniversary of Tamir Rice's death at the hands of the Cleveland police. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/11/22: Stop Mass Incarceration Network co-founder Carl Dix with sign. Stop Mass Incarcerations Network sponsored a children's march demanding accountability on the one year anniversary of Tamir Rice's death at the hands of the Cleveland police. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: People march in protest to the Cuddell Recreation Center where Tamir Rice was killed, in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: People march in protest to the Cuddell Recreation Center where Tamir Rice was killed, in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: People march in protest to the Cuddell Recreation Center where Tamir Rice was killed, in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 20: Cory Webb, 24, raises a sign on the corner of E. Roadway as demonstrators protest police violence December 20, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 20: An unidentified woman raises a sign to protest police violence December 20, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors from Ferguson travelled to Cleveland to rally against the shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 21: Demonstrators march on Euclid Ave. in the Playhouse Square district December 21, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors gathered to voice opposition to the shooting death of 12-year old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 21: Demonstrators march on E. 9th Street December 21, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. For the second straight day protestors gathered in downtown Cleveland to voice opposition to excessive use of police force. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 13: Rev. Al Sharpton (C) leads the 'Justice For All' march in the nation's capital with the families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo and other unarmed black men who were killed by police, December 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. Organized Sharpton's National Action Network, this march and other like it across the country aim to tell Congress and the country that demonstrators will not stand down until there is systemic change, accountability and justice in cases of police misconduct. Sharpton said the demonstration is happening in Washington 'because all over the country we all need to come together and demand this Congress deal with the issues, that we need laws to protect the citizens in these states from these state grand jurors.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Jackson said the ambulance expense should never have arisen but that the city was just following normal procedure. "Should it have happened? No," he said, "because red flags should have been risen. But that didn't happen. Did anybody do anything wrong in this? No, because it's the normal process."

The invoice, dated Wednesday, is for Rice's "last dying expense" and includes $450 for an ambulance and $50 for mileage, according to city documents.

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The claim had yet to be filed with Cuyahoga County probate court, court officials said on Thursday.

"This was a deeply disturbing incident," Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra said in a statement. He said the claim made no sense to the family. "This adds insult to homicide."

Rice was shot by police officer Timothy Loehmann, who was responding to a report of a person with a gun in a park. Rice died the next day.

A grand jury in December declined to bring criminal charges against white officers Loehmann and Frank Garmback.

Earlier on Thursday, U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted: "AskingTamir's family to pay for his ambulance is heartless. Cleveland should drop this fee."

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Bill Trott and Matthew Lewis)

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