Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced the decision Monday afternoon, adding that he did not recommend that grand jury bringing charges and that he believes both of the Cleveland police officers involved were reasonable in their belief that Rice had a real weapon.
via NY Times:
The decision by grand jurors was the end of a lengthy investigation that was criticized by Tamir’s family and by activists, who called the shooting senseless and said the officer should have been charged with murder months ago.
Tamir, who was black, was carrying a replica gun outside a recreation center when someone called 911. The caller cautioned that Tamir was probably a juvenile and that the weapon was “probably fake,” but that information was not relayed to the two officers who responded, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback.
Surveillance video, which has been widely circulated online, showed Officer Garmback pulling the police cruiser within a few feet of Tamir, and Officer Loehmann stepping out of the car and almost immediately firing his gun. Tamir died hours later. His partner, Officer Garmback, was also not indicted.
Timothy J. McGinty, the county prosecutor, who made the announcement at a news conference, said that while “this was a perfect storm of human error,” the evidence considered by a grand jury over two months “did not constitute criminal action by police.” He noted that the law gives the benefit of the doubt to a police officer “who must make a split second decision.”
Mr. McGinty said it was “indisputable” that Tamir was drawing the weapon from his waistband when he was shot — either to hand it over to the officers or to show them that it was not a real firearm. But Mr. McGinty said there was no way for the officers to know that as they pulled up.
He said he “appreciated the sincere emotion and concern of all citizens” but asked the community to “respect the process.”
Tamir was shot on Nov. 22, 2014, two days before a grand jury in Missouri declined to indict the white Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old. Though Cleveland did not experience protests as large or frequent as in Ferguson, Tamir’s death infuriated demonstrators across the country, and the case has become among the most prominent in a national debate over race and policing.
The official investigation into Tamir’s death moved slowly, with the county sheriff’s office taking over for the police department, and then the prosecutor’s office conducting its own inquiry after the sheriff’s inquiry concluded. Fed up with the pace, some activists used an obscure provisionof Ohio law to seek the arrest of the two officers. Though a judge found that probable cause existed for some charges, neither officer was arrested.
Mr. McGinty released a redacted version of the sheriff’s investigation months ago, and in recent months has published three independent reportsby use-of-force analysts who found that Officer Loehmann had acted reasonably in shooting Tamir.
Mr. McGinty, who commissioned the reports but said they would not taint the fairness of the grand jury process, was criticized by Tamir’s family, who suggested that the investigation was rigged and that an indictment was all but impossible.
The Rice family also commissioned outside reports on the shooting, which found that the shooting was unjustified and that the officers used poor tactics in responding to the scene.
Neither Officer Garmback nor Officer Loehmann has spoken publicly about the shooting, though both men read statementsto grand jurors about their actions that day. Officer Loehmann told the grand jury that he fired out of fear for his safety after Tamir reached into his waistband and grabbed the replica gun, which he believed to be real.
Tamir’s family has questioned Officer Loehmann’s account of the shooting, and has sued the city and both officers in federal court.
Since Tamir’s death, questions have been raised about Officer Loehmann’s qualifications and about the Cleveland police’s standards on the use of force. Records show that Officer Loehmann resigned from another Ohio police department after a “dangerous loss of composure” during firearms training. The Cleveland police did not review that department’s personnel file before offering Officer Loehmann a job.
So sad. So infuriating.