Tamir Rice family calling for 'direct indictment' - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Tamir Rice family calling for 'direct indictment'

Tamir Rice's mother during a Tuesday news conference. (Source: WOIO) Tamir Rice's mother during a Tuesday news conference. (Source: WOIO)
Samaria Rice's attorney Walter Madison. (Source: WOIO) Samaria Rice's attorney Walter Madison. (Source: WOIO)
Tamir Rice family Attorney Benjamin L. Crump. (Source: WOIO) Tamir Rice family Attorney Benjamin L. Crump. (Source: WOIO)
Samaria Rice, the mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, along with her attorneys, Benjamin L. Crump and Walter Madison, held a news conference Tuesday at the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP on Euclid Avenue. The news conference comes on the heels of last week's announcement by the city. 

On Friday, the city of Cleveland announced it formally transferred the Tamir Rice investigation over to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department. This was done at the direction of newly-elected Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.

"This decision to turn the investigation over was made to ensure that transparency and an extra layer of separation and impartiality were established," said Mayor Frank Jackson. "I believe that the best way to ensure accountability in a use of force investigation is to have it completed by an outside agency."

The sheriff's department will then present the completed investigation to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office for determination of possible charges.

"We are cautiously optimistic that it will be a thorough and fair investigation into the death of Tamir Rice," said Crump.

The caution Crump mentioned comes from questions he has about why it took the city more than six weeks to ask the sheriff to handle the investigation. His co-counsel, Daryl Parks, agrees.

"We have a real concern as to what happened to cause that shift. We want that question answered," said Parks.

At Tuesday's news conference, Samaria Rice said she hopes the transfer brings new answers. 

"It doesn't matter if the sheriff or the prosecutor is over this, but me and his dad, and family, is worried about are they gonna be held accountable for our son's murder," said Rice.  

Family members also called, once again, for a direct indictment against the officer who shot him. Rice family members have said they basically do not trust grand juries because everything is done behind closed doors. 

"We want to give them an opportunity to have people know that they didn't do anything wrong, if they didn't do something wrong. But when it's a secret grand jury proceeding, very few people have confidence in the results of that grand jury without being able to see it for themselves," said Crump.

A direct indictment is one in which the case goes straight to trial, before an inquiry is completed, circumventing the preliminary hearing. These indictments are extraordinary, powerful, and are rarely used.

"Clearly we don't think they need to have a grand jury. As we've said before, we think there's enough probable cause there to charge this police officer without having this secret proceeding," explained Crump.

Tamir was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer in November 2014. Dispatch had received a call about a male with a gun outside of a Cleveland recreation center. 

The caller said the person with the gun may be a juvenile, and that the gun may be fake, but that information was never relayed to officer Timothy Loehmann, according to investigators. The gun turned out to be an Airsoft-type BB gun.

According to the police department, Officer Loehmann shot Tamir after they said he would not comply to three verbal commands and reached for his weapon in his waistband. 

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas P. Gilson released Rice's autopsy report last month. He ruled the 12-year-old's death a homicide.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE
 
Copyright 2015 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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