After more than a year of investigation, a Cleveland 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 park.
In announcing the decision Monday, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said he did not recommend that the grand jury bring any charges and 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.
“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.”
Rice was fatally shot by officer Tim Loehmann, a rookie on the Cleveland police force, on Nov. 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 officerssaid in statements released earlier this month that Rice appeared much older and reached for the toy gun that was tucked in his waistband before Loehmann shot at him.
“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, attorneys for Tamir Rice’s family renewed their calls for the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting, decrying the grand jury process.
“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 attorneys said. “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 boy’s death came just days before massive protests and unrest would break out in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City after officers in those cities were cleared in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
The death of Tamir Rice prompted a round of protests in Cleveland that at times blocked freeways and interrupted public meetings, with residents demanding indictments for Loehmann and Garmback.