No charges in Cleveland police slaying of Tamir Rice

Posted at 2:10 PM, Dec 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-28 15:17:08-05

CLEVELAND (AP) — A grand jury has declined to indict a rookie Cleveland police officer or his partner for their roles in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a black youngster who was holding what turned out to be a pellet gun.

Patrolman Timothy Loehmann fatally shot Tamir Rice within two seconds of a police cruiser driven by Frank Garmback skidding to a stop near the boy in November 2014. The charges come after a lengthy investigation by the Cuyahoga County sheriff’s office and county prosecutors and a grand jury presentation that began in late October.

Prosecutor Tim McGinty announced the grand jury’s decision Monday.

A video of the shooting captured by a surveillance camera provoked outrage nationally and made Tamir a central figure in a protest movement over police killings.

McGinty says newly enhanced video shows that it is “indisputable” that Tamir was removing his gun from his waistband when he was shot.

He says it’s almost certain that Tamir intended to hand it over to the officers or to show them that it wasn’t a real gun. But he says there’s no way the officers could have known that.

Relatives of Rice say they’re disappointed but not surprised that the grand jury declined to indict the officer who fatally shot him.

In a statement released Monday through a lawyer, the family accuses McGinty of “abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment.” The family says the prosecutor’s handling of the process compounded their grief.

McGinty says he put the case before a grand jury so the evidence would be reviewed not only by a prosecutor but also by a panel of citizens who would make the final call on whether charges were merited.

The family urged anyone who’s disappointed in the grand jury decision to express that “peacefully and democratically.”