Officer in Tamir Rice Case Was Accused of Choking and Beating a Woman

In 2012, a Cleveland woman sued officer Frank Garmback for alleged excessive use of force.

Cleveland's police use of force report regarding an incident involving officer Frank Garmback.Courtesy Cleveland Division of Police

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The ongoing criminal investigation into the death of Tamir Rice has focused mostly on Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland police officer who shot and killed the 12-year-old in a park last November. Last month, a county official familiar with the case told Mother Jones that Frank Garmback, the officer who drove the police car to within a few feet of Rice moments before Loehmann stepped out and opened fire, was not under criminal investigation by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, which turned over its investigation to county prosecutor on Wednesday.

As Mother Jones and others have reported, prior records showed that Loehmann “could not follow simple directions” and that “his handgun performance was dismal.” Garmback’s past record has received far less attention, even though he was involved in a use-of-force lawsuit that was settled not long before Rice’s death.

In 2012, Garmback was named in a civil rights lawsuit for allegedly using excessive force against a black woman named Tamela Eaton. Eaton, who was 39 at the time, had called Cleveland police in August 2010 to ask for help towing a car that was parked in front of her driveway. Garmback and another officer, Tim Guerra, were searching for a murder suspect nearby. When they tried to arrest a man walking down the street, Eaton heard the commotion and came out of her home, believing the officers were responding to her call. Eaton’s lawsuit asserted that Garmback initially argued with her, then rushed toward her “and placed her in a chokehold, tackled her to the ground, twisted her wrist and began hitting her body. Officer Guerra rushed over and proceeded to punch Tamela Eaton in the face multiple times.”

After the incident, county prosecutors charged Eaton for punching the officer and resisting arrest. In 2012, she filed suit against Garmback and Guerra; the case eventually moved to federal court. In 2014, Cleveland paid Eaton $100,000 to settle the case. The settlement did not appear on Garmback’s personnel record, and was largely unknown to the public until the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on the settlement last December.

Below is the Cleveland police’s use of force report on the 2010 incident, which Guerra and Garmback disclosed as part of their defense in Eaton’s lawsuit:

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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