A grand jury declined to indict a white rookie police officer in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a black youngster who was shot to death while carrying what turned out to be a pellet gun, a prosecutor said Monday.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said it was "indisputable" that the boy was drawing the weapon from his waistband when he was gunned down — either to hand it over to police or to show them that it wasn't a real firearm. But McGinty said there was no way for the officers on the scene to know that.
He called it "a perfect storm of human error" but said no crime was committed.
Tamir was carrying a borrowed airsoft gun that looked like a real gun but shot nonlethal plastic pellets. It was missing its telltale orange tip.
The video shows patrolman Loehmann, a rookie at the time, shooting Tamir in an instant as the cruiser driven by Garmback skids to a stop on Nov. 22, 2014. The video of the shooting captured by a surveillance camera provoked outrage nationally, and together with other killings of black people by police in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, it helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to newsnet5.com, the Tamir Rice family released the following statement following the grand jury announcement:
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.
The grand jury had been hearing evidence and testimony since mid-October.