Crime

No Criminal Prosecution In Shooting Of Tamir Rice

| by Jordan Smith
Tamir Rice Protest T-shirt worn by football player in December 2014Tamir Rice Protest T-shirt worn by football player in December 2014

On Dec. 28, it was announced that the police shooting of a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland in November 2014 will not result in any criminal prosecution.

A grand jury decided that the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice had not committed a crime and should not be indicted, CNN reported.

Prosecutor Timothy McGinty reacted to the decision by describing Rice’s death as an “absolute tragedy.”

“But it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime,” he added, according to CNN.

On Nov. 22, 2014, police were called to the park where Rice was playing with a toy gun, though the caller had advised that the weapon was probably a fake. This information, however, was not relayed to the officers, according to voice recordings.

Within seconds of arriving on the scene, officer-in-training Timothy Loehmann had shot and killed Rice. The other officer involved was Frank Garmback, who was training Loehmann.

The prosecutor said that police thought Rice was much older than his age because of his size.

Rice’s death was just one in a number of incidents where police officers shot unarmed victims. These tragedies have triggered protests demanding the officers involved be held accountable for their actions.

“We, too, want justice for Tamir,” McGinty said. “But it would not be justice to bring charges against the officers involved in the shooting if those charges could not be sustained. That, however, doesn’t mean the legal system is done.”

Cleveland police will conduct an administrative review, which could result in the disciplining of the officers involved.

A federal review of the case is also ongoing.

Rice’s family voiced their displeasure with the grand jury's decision.

“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,” a statement from the Rice family said.

One particular area of concern was that both officers were permitted to submit written testimony to the grand jury rather than testifying at a hearing.

In addition, the prosecution also called outside experts to provide their opinion on video footage.

“It is unheard of, and highly improper, for a prosecutor to hire ‘experts’ to try to exonerate the targets of a grand jury investigation," the Rice family continued in their statement. "These are the sort of ‘experts’ we would expect the officer’s criminal defense attorney to hire – not the prosecutor."

McGinty countered that the advice was not aimed at reaching a conclusion but at helping the grand jury decide.

In June, a Cleveland judge Ronald Adrine issued a non-binding ruling arguing that probable cause existed in the case for the charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty against Loehmann.

Adrine also ruled that Garmback could be charged with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty, the New York Times reported. He urged that criminal complaints be filed.

However, McGinty favored allowing the grand jury to decide, a process he said had been followed in all police killings since he took office.

Sources: CNN, New York Times / Photo credit: Wikicommons, NBC News