The president of Miami’s police union has defended comments he made on Twitter calling Tamir Rice a thug.
Javier Ortiz added that the shooting of 12-year-old Rice, who was shot by police in November 2014 while playing with a toy gun, was fully justified, according to the Miami New Times.
“Act like a thug and you'll be treated like one,” Ortiz wrote on Twitter during a debate, the New Times reported.
The case has been widely discussed since a grand jury announced Dec. 28 it would not bring criminal charges against the two officers involved.
“Mr. Rice wasn't your neighborhood kid running around with a water gun. He was brandishing and pointing a pellet gun in which the orange tip was removed,” Ortiz told the New Times. “As tragic as the situation is, I support those in law enforcement that had to make a split-second decision in protecting themselves and the community.”
Ortiz has been an outspoken defender of officers in other police shootings, including Darren Wilson, the officer who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Ortiz also attacked Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa because he called for the prosecution of the New York officers involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, who argued in favor of dropping criminal charges, described Rice’s death as a “perfect storm of human error.”
But opposition is growing to the grand jury decision, and to McGinty’s office for recommending no indictments be issued.
A coalition of groups, including the NAACP has called on supporters to come to Cleveland, Ohio, to protest the grand jury decision.
They have also presented a series of demands to the city of Cleveland, including “The release of transcripts from the grand jury,” and “the removal of Timothy McGinty as prosecutor for Cuyahoga County.”
Basheer Jones, who founded the Cleveland Renaissance Movement, another group which is part of the coalition, noted that people from all sections of society backed their campaign.
“Not only is this a black thing or a democratic thing, but you have conservatives and independents who are involved. You have blacks, whites, Muslims, Christians, Jews. You have so many people involved saying, ‘Hey, this is a problem,’” Jones told Yahoo News.