CLEVELAND - Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty announced Monday afternoon that a grand jury will not bring charges against the two officers in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
Police were called to Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2014 after a 911 caller reported a male in the area waving a gun. "There's a guy with a pistol," the 911 caller told dispatch. "The guy keeps pulling it out. It's probably fake." The officers were not told the gun may be fake.
Officer Frank Garmback was driving the police cruiser and stopped next to a gazebo, putting the cops between Rice and the rec center. The Cleveland Division of Police said they ordered Rice to drop the weapon, before Officer Timothy Loehmann fired. Rice had an airsoft pistol that police say looked like a real gun.
The 12-year-old suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach and was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he died the following day.
Prosecutor McGinty said the investigation revealed that Officer Loehmann had reason to fear for his life. "It would be irresponsible or unreasonable if the officer was required to wait and see if the gun was real." McGinty also said Tamir Rice's size made him look older.
The prosecutor said Tamir Rice's family was notified and condolences were given. He called the shooting death an "absolute tragedy" and said, "There have been lessons learned already in this case. It should never happen again, and steps have been taken to make sure it is not. The city has bought body cameras. Dash cameras are on the way for city police and suburban departments."
Assistant Prosecutor Matt Meyer, chief of the Public Corruption Unit, showed a real gun vs. a replica of the airsoft pistol Rice had. He said Rice spent several hours at the rec center. He got the airsoft pistol from a friend, who said he removed the orange tip from the gun.
Prosecutor McGinty wants to call on legislature and manufacturers to not make toy guns that look real.
He also said it is now time for the community to start to heal.
Rice's family released a statement Monday:
Today, more than a year after Cleveland police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a grand jury voted not to indict the shooter. Tamir’s family is saddened and disappointed by this outcome–but 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. 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. These are the sort of “experts” we would expect the officer’s criminal-defense attorney to hire—not the prosecutor.
Then, Prosecutor McGinty allowed the police officers to take the oath and read prepared statements to the grand jury without answering any questions on cross-examination. Even though it is black-letter law that taking the stand waives the Fifth Amendment right to be silent, the prosecutor did not seek a court order compelling the officers to answer questions or holding the officers in contempt if they continued to refuse. This special treatment would never be given to non-police suspects.
The way Prosecutor McGinty has mishandled the grand-jury process has compounded the grief of this family.
The Rice family is grateful for all the community support they have received and urges people who want to express their disappointment with how Prosecutor McGinty has handled this process to do so peacefully and democratically. We renew our request that the Department of Justice step in to conduct a real investigation into this tragic shooting of a 12-year-old child.