An Ohio grand jury has declined to bring criminal charges against two Cleveland police officers in the 2014 shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced on Monday.
McGinty said the grand jury declined to charge officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback in connection with Tamir’s death, which was also the recommendation of the prosecutor’s office. “Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunication by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police,” he said.
12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by Loehmann on November 22, 2014, after he and a colleague responded to a call of a man sitting in a city park and pointing a gun at people. Information from a caller who said that the gun was “probably fake” was not relayed to the officers, who stopped their vehicle near Rice, after which Loehmann immediately opened fire when Tamir reached towards his waistband.
“If we put ourselves in the victim’s shoes, as prosecutors and detectives try to do, it is likely that Tamir, whose size made him look much older, and who had been warned that his pellet gun might get him into trouble that day, either intended to hand it over to the officers, or show them that it wasn’t a real gun. But there was no way for the officers to know that, because they saw the events rapidly unfolding in front of them from a very different perspective,” McGinty explained.
The announcement comes exactly a month after the prosecutor’s office released enhanced images of the shooting, which showed Tamir reaching for his waistband before Loehmann opened fire.
Responding to Monday’s announcement, Tamir’s family said they were “saddened and disappointed” by the grand jury’s decision, but added that they were not surprised. “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 said in a statement.
Earlier this year, two Cleveland police supervisors were disciplined for failing to adequately supervise a background investigation before the department hired Loehmann, who had been found unfit for duty by another police department and had a handgun performance that was judged to be poor. Lt. Gail Bindel was given a 2-day suspension and Sgt. Edwin Santiago received a written reprimand.
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