CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office received an expert report Thursday regarding the November 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice.
Tamir was shot by Officer Timothy Loehmann outside the Cudell Recreation Center after someone called 911 to report that someone was waving a gun. The 12-year-old was found to have an airsoft pellet gun.
The grand jury will decide whether officers Loehmann and Frank Garmback will face charges in the case.
The report released Thursday comes from Ken Katsaris, a police consultant and trainer out of Florida.
Katsaris says in the 13-page report that the actions of Officer Loehmann are reasonable. Katsaris writes that his assessment is based solely on what officers Loehmann and Garmback knew when they responded to the scene, not what has been uncovered after the fact.
Katsaris wraps up his report, writing "This unquestionably was a tragic loss of life, but to compound the tragedy by labeling the officers conduct as anything but objectively reasonable would also be a tragedy, albeit not carrying with it the consequences of the loss of life, only the possibility of loss of career."
After releasing the report, County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty issued this statement:
As prosecutor, it is my sworn duty to uphold the law and seek justice in every case, regardless of popular opinion or public controversy.
When it comes to police use of deadly force cases, I could simply make a ruling as to whether a police officer's actions were justified by law or violated the law, with no need to explain my decision. Instead, in all fatal use of deadly force cases, I have chosen to use a process by which evidence is carefully investigated by another separate and neutral police agency (in this case, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office). The Grand Jury will then hear from all witnesses and experts, and hear from any additional witnesses they desire or demand.
Ultimately, the people who actually hear the evidence and question the witnesses will make the final decision regarding charges. I have faith in the people of this county to fulfill their sworn duty to make a correct and honorable decision.
This new, more open and transparent protocol is far superior to the former method of having the prosecutor making the decision privately in his or her office for reasons known only to him or her. Releasing police and expert reports allows the public to have knowledge of actual facts, rather than forming opinions based on rumor and innuendo. This is a far more thorough investigation than has ever been done in this county, and there has never before been such an open process.
This method also gives the opportunity to correct errors in process, behavior, hiring and training – or whatever the issues are in a case – promptly rather than waiting for years as a case proceeds through trial. If you wait years, enthusiasm
and opportunity for reform are lost. We do not want to squander the opportunity for reform, as it can save lives and improve public confidence.
It is in that spirit of openness that we are today releasing an additional expert report and video evidence gathered during the investigation into the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer on November 22, 2014.
The video was taken by a security camera at Cudell Recreation and shows a different angle than the videotape that was widely shown in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The latest analysis of deadly force issues was authored by W. Ken Katsaris, a veteran law enforcement officer and nationally recognized instructor, who testified for the State of Ohio in the manslaughter trial of Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo.
Once again, as we stated last month, we are not reaching any conclusions from these or other isolated bits of evidence. Individually they are simply pieces of a complex puzzle. The gathering of evidence continues and the Grand Jury will evaluate it all.
Because the investigation continues, it would be premature for me to announce any final decision on charging. I know that is frustrating to many people who are pained and upset by the events of November 22, but I believe careful attention is required in this case.
Finally, let me emphasize that Tamir's mother has every right to grieve the loss of her child and to demand justice. As a parent, her loss is unimaginable. We have the utmost respect for Ms. Rice and will continue to work with her. My comments were not about Ms. Rice, but instead responded to a civil attorney's inflammatory attacks on the grand jury process. Any efforts to suggest otherwise are simply not true.
Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra fired back live on Cleveland 19 News, saying McGinty appears to have no respect for the dignity of Samaria Rice, Tamir's mother.
Chandra called the delay in a decision in the case a "pretense of a continued investigation."
"How much more do you need to investigate when you have the video of what transpired and you have the basic information," Chandra asked.