On Monday (Dec. 28), Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced that the officers involved in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice would not be indicted. The grand jury decision not to bring charges upon Cleveland police officers Tim Loehmann and Frank Garmback comes over a year after the shooting of Rice on November 22, 2014. McGinty announced that the decision was in line with his recommendation, citing that the officers acted within reason.
McGinty also said that he informed Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother, of the decision, and that she was “broken up.” He went on to justify the ruling, calling it a “perfect storm of human error.”
“We explained to her that this was a difficult decision also, but that to charge police, even in a situation as undeniably tragic as the death of her son, the State must be able to show that the officers acted outside of the constitutional boundaries set forth by the Supreme Court of these United States. 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,” he said.
Rice was shot and killed while reportedly wielding a BB gun. In a call placed to 911, a resident said, “There’s a guy in there with a pistol, you know, it’s probably fake, but he’s like pointing it at everybody. He’s sitting on a swing right now, but he’s pulling it in and out of his pants and pointing it at people. He’s probably a juvenile, you know?” When Loehmann and Garmack arrived onto the scene at Cudell Recreation Center, there was a brief time lapse between when the officers exited their vehicle and when Rice was shot by Loehmann two times. He was pronounced dead at MetroHealth Medical Center the next day.
In October, an “expert” Colorado prosecutor, S. Lamar Sims, delivered a report that Loehmann’s shooting was “justified” in the incident. While calling Rice’s death “tragic,” he went on to conclude that the 12-year-old was believed to have “posed a threat.”
“There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking,” Sims wrote. “However, for all of the reasons discussed herein, I conclude that Officer Loehmann’s belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat.”
The non-indictment of Tamir Rice’s shooter also comes just two weeks after a Baltimore jury declared a mistrial for one of the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray.