Steve Almasy and Ashley Fantz, CNN, December 28, 2015
An Ohio grand jury has decided not to return an indictment in the 2014 police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, prosecutor Tim McGinty said Monday.
Rice was holding a pellet gun when he was shot. It was “reasonable” to believe that the officer who killed the boy was facing a threat, McGinty said.
The officer was in training outside a Cleveland recreation center in November 2014. The shooting sparked controversy given Tamir’s age and the fact that he had a gun that resembled a handgun.
McGinty called Rice’s killing an “absolute tragedy.”
“But it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime,” he said. He said he has “heard the chants” that cry for justice for the boy.
“We too want justice for Tamir,” he said. But it would not be justice to bring charges against the officers involved in the shooting if those charges “could not be sustained.”
That, however, “doesn’t mean the legal system is done,” he said. The civil courts may provide some accountability to the boy’s family “that they deserve,” McGinty said.
Tamir had been playing near the swings of a recreation center near his home when he was shot on November 22. He died a day later.
A witness called 911, reporting there was “a guy with a pistol,” adding that the weapon was “probably” fake.
Information that the gun the caller saw was probably not real and that the person holding it appeared to be a juvenile was not conveyed to Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, according to recordings that law enforcement released.
Video of the incident shows a patrol car pull up on the snowy grass near a gazebo where Tamir is standing. Within seconds of arriving on the scene, Loehmann shoots the boy.
The gun was in the waistband of Tamir’s pants. Sims writes that in the video, it appears the boy’s hands moved toward his waistband, but it is unclear if he reached for the gun.