New Details: Confusion over NO VOTE in Tamir Rice case

New Details: Confusion over NO VOTE in Tamir Rice case
Tamir Rice protest sign. (Source: WOIO)
Tamir Rice protest sign. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Samaria Rice Attorney Subodh Chandra is responding to new details just revealed in the Tamir Rice case.

For the first time the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office office is trying to clear up how the Grand Jury voted in 12-year-old's shooting case. Admitting Wednesday the Grand Jury did not hold a vote for no-bill, meaning no charges, instead it voted on whether or not the shooting was justified -- meaning there could not be criminal charges filed against the officers.

"That the prosecutor saw to it that the grand jury never took an up-or-down vote on particular potential criminal charges is the ultimate insult to the bereaved Rice family and only underscores the family's concerns that the prosecutor rigged the process to ensure no accountability for the officers. This is one of many reasons that a Department of Justice investigation is warranted," Atty. Subodh Chandra said.

"Combine this with McGinty's (1) failure to cross-examine the officers after they took the oath and gave self-serving testimony—a special gift no other investigative target would ever receive; (2) public release of biased and fatally flawed expert reports that made up testimony, ignored evidence, and ignored the proper legal standard; and (3) unprofessional abuse of the Rice family's experts, not even letting them present their findings in a coherent fashion and denying their expert reports to the grand jury before the experts testified—and the picture of the prosecutor's agenda is crystal clear. In Tim McGinty's world, one set of rules applies to ordinary citizens; other rules apply if you are a Cleveland police officer," Atty. Chandra added.

So how did the grand jury make its decision?

To explain, prosecutor Timothy McGinty's office released the following statement:

County Prosecutors in Ohio are not required to take police use of deadly force cases that result in the death of civilians to the Grand Jury for review. The County Prosecutor can rule the death justifiable under Ohio law, and that is the end of the case. However since 2013, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office has made it a policy to take all fatal use of deadly force cases to Grand Jury for investigation and review — and the final decision on whether to charge or not charge has been left up to the Grand Jury.

The policy on our Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office website state as follows:

"To ensure public confidence in the integrity of the Criminal Justice System, the policy of the County Prosecutor's Office will be to present the facts of every fatal police shooting and of all other fatal uses of deadly force by law enforcement officers in Cuyahoga County to the Grand Jury for review. We are committed in these cases to conducting a thorough investigation that satisfies both the high standards of this office and the needs of the Grand Jury.
"All relevant facts that are gathered by the police and, if necessary, by our own investigators will be presented to the Grand Jury in its traditional investigative role.
"In addition, during the course of its investigation, the County Prosecutor's Office will listen to and consider credible evidence from any source, including defense attorneys and lawyers who may be representing the deceased's family in civil litigation against the city.
"At the conclusion of an investigation and Grand Jury presentation, the decision to charge or not charge ultimately rests with the Grand Jury.
"If at the conclusion of the Grand Jury presentation, the County Prosecutor's Office does not believe there is sufficient evidence to charge the police officer or officers with a crime or believes that the use of deadly force was justifiable by law or necessary by duty, the Grand Jury is informed that it has the final say. If they disagree with the assessment of the County Prosecutor's Office, Grand Jurors can ask for a true bill-no bill opportunity or they can ask to hear additional witnesses and evidence."

In all Use of Deadly Force cases in Cuyahoga County where a police officer kills a civilian, the Grand Jury conducts an investigation, hears from all the witnesses presented and those it desires. All proceedings in the Grand Jury are on the record and recorded by the court reporter.

At the conclusion of the investigation, prosecutors instruct the Grand Jury on the law regarding police use of deadly force and on all potential criminal charges. The Grand Jury then privately deliberates and votes on the justification issue. If the Grand Jury decides that the fatal use of force was justified under the circumstances, then the Grand Jury investigation is concluded.

If the Grand Jury votes that the use of force was not justified, then it will consider criminal charges and return a true bill or a no-bill on those charges.

On December 28, 2015, the Grand Jury reported to the court this finding "In re: Investigation of the November 22, 2014, shooting death of Tamir Rice at Cudell Recreation Center," signed by the Grand Jury foreman:

"The Grand Jurors have concluded the investigation into the November 22, 2014 death of Tamir Rice and have declined to issue criminal charges."

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