Grand jury declined to indict Cleveland officers in shooting death of Tamir Rice

RAW: Clevelend Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams on grand jury decision
Matt Meyer, Public Corruption Unit Supervisor: No way for officers to discern that Tamir's gun was not real (Source: WOIO)
Matt Meyer, Public Corruption Unit Supervisor: No way for officers to discern that Tamir's gun was not real (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A grand jury has decided not to indict two Cleveland police officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Tamir, 12, was fatally shot November 22, 2014, at the Cudell Rec Center on West Boulevard while carrying a pellet gun.

Surveillance video shows Officer Timothy Loehmann shot Rice within two seconds of his car stopping near the gazebo at the rec center.

Officer Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback have been on paid leave since the incident. Both officers will remain on restricted duty until the administrative process is complete.

CLICK TO READ MCGINTY'S PREPARED STATEMENT

Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra released a statement shortly after the decision was announced:

"Today, more than a year after Cleveland police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a grand jury voted not to indict the shooter. Tamir's family is saddened and disappointed by this outcome–but not surprised. It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment. Even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second, Prosecutor McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses to try to exonerate the officers and tell the grand jury their conduct was reasonable and justified. It is unheard of, and highly improper,  for a prosecutor to hire "experts" to try to exonerate the targets of a grand jury investigation.

These are the sort of ""experts" we would expect the officer's criminal defense attorney to hire- not the prosecutor. Then, Prosecutor McGinty allowed the police officers to take the oath and read prepared statements to the grand jury without answering any questions on cross examination. Even though

It is black-letter law that taking the stand waives the Fifth Amendment right to be silent, the prosecutor did not seek a court order compelling the officers to answer questions or holding the officers in contempt if they continued to refuse. This special treatment would never be given to non-police suspects.

The way Prosecutor McGinty has mishandled the grand jury process has compounded the grief of this family.

The Rice family is grateful for all the community support they have received and urges people who want to express their disappointment with how Prosecutor McGinty has handled this process  to do so peacefully and democratically. We renew our request that the Department of Justice step in to conduct a real investigation into this tragic shooting of a 12-year old child."

OFFICERS LOEHMANN & GARMBACK:

Monday evening, the attorney for Officer Garmback, Michael P. Moloney released a statement on the officer's behalf:

Officer Timothy Loehmann's attorney told Cleveland 19 that the past year has been "hell" for his client.

CLEVELAND MAYOR FRANK JACKSON:

In a news conference Monday afternoon, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said he knows the deep pain felt by the Rice family and is sorry for their loss, saying, "We don't intend to add to any anxiety or agony they feel about the process."

Mayor Jackson says the city will now begin an administrative review of the incident and that Police Chief Calvin Williams will begin that step.

"This will not be a process, this will be due process," Mayor Jackson said.

THE GRAND JURY:

Since mid-October, the grand jury heard from 911 call takers, Cleveland dispatchers, assisting officers, and officers Loehmann and Garmback. Tamir's mother Samaria Rice was also called to testify.

Also over the past two months, Prosecutor McGinty has released several opinions issued by outside experts.

COMMUNITY REACTION TO DECISION:

People gathered at the Cudell Rec Center in the wake of the grand jury's decision. Most expressed their disappointment in the decision not to indict the officers.

Many of the protesters then marched from the rec center to Cleveland Police First District Headquarters to file complaints against First District officers.

Protesters also gathered at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland where Cuyahoga County deputies put barricades in place.

REACTION TO GRAND JURY DECISION:

NAACP RESPONSE:

The failure of the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury to indict the killers of young Tamir Rice with murder is a miscarriage of justice. This case has been botched from its inception by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. That this decision has taken a year is the first failing and it has been compounded by utter incompetence, racial bias and highly suspect action of the prosecutor. This means that there is imbalance in the system that's supposed to treat all citizens with impartiality and make decisions in reliance on basic facts and probable cause. It also gives license to police officers to act as judge, jury and executioner. That this is a trend throughout the country means that our entire criminal justice system is suspect. It also calls into question the actions of our County Prosecutor, which conceivably tainted the process and resulted in this egregious decision which is a violation, not only of the constitution but of the faith of victims that their rights would be protected. While it's too early to predict what actions the NAACP will take in this matter, be assured that Mr. McGinty's conduct will be the subject of an intense legal discussion. Furthermore it's time for our friends in both political parties to consider a justice litmus test for all candidates for office in the criminal justice system.

CUYAHOGA COUNTY EXECUTIVE ARMOND BUDISH:

The Grand Jury has decided not to indict. We understand that many in our community did not expect this result. I have instructed the Cuyahoga County Sheriff to work with other local law enforcement officers to protect the rights of our citizens to peaceful protest. I pray that our citizens will follow the words and non-violent actions of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence." 

STATEMENT FROM U.S. ATTORNEY:

"The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the United States Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been monitoring the investigation that has been conducted regarding the death of Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, 2014. We will continue our independent review of this matter, assess all available materials and determine what actions are appropriate, given the strict burdens and requirements imposed by applicable federal civil rights laws. Additionally, the Department of Justice continues in its efforts to pursue ongoing and comprehensive reform pursuant to the consent decree in the federal, civil pattern and practice case filed before Chief Judge Solomon Oliver in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio."

STATEMENT FROM OH GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH:

"Tamir Rice's death was a heartbreaking tragedy and I understand how this decision will leave many people asking themselves if justice was served. We all lose, however, if we give in to anger and frustration and let it divide us. We have made progress to improve the way communities and police work together in our state, and we're beginning to see a path to positive change so everyone shares in the safety and success they deserve. When we are strong enough together to turn frustration into progress we take another step up the higher path."

TRANSPARENCY IN THE INVESTIGATION:

During his news conference, McGinty also addressed the issue of transparency in the investigation, and released a statement earlier this month about the situation:

MCGINTY ON TOY GUNS:

McGinty also called on legislators to urge toy gun manufacturers to not make toy guns look like so real.

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