An Ohio grand jury has declined to indict two Cleveland police officers involved in the 2014 shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor announced Monday.
Rice, 12, was fatally wounded by officer Tim Loehmann, a rookie on the Cleveland police force, on Nov. 22, 2014, as the young boy played with a toy gun in a public park.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said while the situation was “undeniably tragic”, the grand jury’s decision to not bring charges against officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback was “based on the evidence they heard and the law as it applies to police use of deadly force.”
“Simply put: Given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and communications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police.”
Loehmann said in a statement released this month that Rice appeared much older and reached for the toy gun that was tucked in his waistband even when ordered to show his hands.
I kept my eyes on the suspect the entire time. 1 was fixed on his waistband and hand area. I was trained to keep my eyes on his hands because “hands may kill.” The male appeared to be over 18 years old and about 185 pounds. The suspect lifted his shirt reached down into his waistband. We continued to yell “show me your hands.” I was focused on the suspect. Even when he was reaching into his waistband, I didn’t fire. I still was yelling the command ‘show me your hands.
The family disputes these claims. Video of the incident shows a patrol car skid near a gazebo where Tamir is standing. Within seconds of arriving on the scene, Loehmann shoots the boy.
“It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment,” the family attorneys said. “Even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second, Prosecutor McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses to try to exonerate the officers and tell the grand jury their conduct was reasonable and justified. It is unheard of, and highly improper, for a prosecutor to hire “experts” to try to exonerate the targets of a grand jury investigation.”
Many on on social media expressed frustration and sadness over the non indictment:
#TamirRice was killed in a drive by shooting by the police!!! And y’all won’t even take it to trial!!!
— Ejike [eh-jih-kāy] (@TheNewThinker) December 28, 2015
McGinty #TamirRice could never have been your child… never run the same risks… your kid can play with toy guns and be ok
— officialERICA GARNER (@es_snipes) December 28, 2015
Prosecutor: “We have body cams now.” Again, that’s a liberal ornament of reform. Rice’s death was recorded!
— Juan M. Thompson (@JuanMThompson) December 28, 2015
Stop looking to the people who are killing us for justice
— 252 Santa (@SankofaBrown) December 28, 2015