Grand jury declines to bring charges against Cleveland police in shooting of 12-year-old playing with gun.

After more than a year of investigation, a grand jury declined to bring charges against either of the two police officers involved in the fatal November 2014 shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was playing with a toy weapon in a Cleveland park.

In announcing the decision, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty said he did not recommend that the grand jury bring any charges.

McGinty added that he believes both of the Cleveland police officers involved in the deadly encounter were reasonable in their belief that Rice had a real weapon, and that new analysis of the video of the shooting leaves it "indisputable" that the boy was pulling the weapon from his waistband when he was killed.

"The outcome will not cheer anyone, nor should it," McGinty said. "Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police."

Advertisement

Rice was fatally shot by officer Tim Loehmann, a rookie on the Cleveland police force, on November 22, 2014, as the young boy played with a toy gun in a public park.

The grand jury also reviewed the actions of Loehmann's partner, Frank Garmback. The officers said in statements that Rice appeared much older and reached for the toy gun that was tucked in his waistband before Loehmann shot at him.

Police officers are rarely charged after on-duty shootings. There have been at least 975 police fatal shootings in the United States this year, according to a Washington Post database; officers have been charged with a crime in just eight of those shootings.

Prosecutors and grand juries have also indicted a number of officers this year for fatal shootings that occurred in previous years.

McGinty said that the shooting death of Rice did not meet the standard of a crime.

"The death of Tamir Rice was an absolute tragedy but it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime," McGinty said, before adding that he informed Tamir's mother of the decision before announcing it publicly.

"It was a tough conversation ... She was broken up." In a statement issued not long after the prosecutor's announcement, lawyers for Tamir Rice's family decried the grand jury process and renewed their calls for the Department of Justice to bring federal charges.

"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 lawyers said.

Advertisement

"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."

The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division is conducting its own independent investigation into Rice's death.

Tamir Rice's death came just days before massive protests and unrest would break out in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York after officers in those cities were cleared in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

The Rice shooting prompted protests that blocked roads and interrupted public meetings, with local residents demanding indictments for Loehmann and Garmback.

- Bloomberg

Advertisement