Two outside investigators looking into the death of Tamir Rice have concluded that a Cleveland police officer, Tim Loehmann, acted reasonably in deciding last year to shoot when he confronted the 12-year-old boy carrying what turned out to be a replica gun.
Those opinions, reached separately by a Colorado prosecutor and a former F.B.I. supervisory special agent, were released Saturday night by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Timothy J. McGinty, whose office will ultimately present evidence in the case to a grand jury to decide on possible criminal charges.
“The question is not whether every officer would have reacted the same way,” Kimberly A. Crawford, the retired F.B.I. agent, wrote in her report, which noted that Officer Loehmann had no way of knowing Tamir’s gun was fake. “Rather, the relevant inquiry is whether a reasonable officer, confronting the exact same scenario under identical conditions could have concluded that deadly force was necessary.”
The reports, which were commissioned by the prosecutor’s office, come almost 11 months after the shooting outside a recreation center on Nov. 22, 2014. Footage of the shooting was captured on a surveillance camera, and Tamir’s name quickly became among the most prominent in a series of black men and boys whose deaths at the hands of the police were memorialized in Twitter hashtags and protest chants.
Both Ms. Crawford and S. Lamar Sims, the prosecutor from Colorado, said in their reports that they were evaluating Officer Loehmann’s actions under the United States Constitution, not Ohio state law.
“There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking,” Mr. Sims wrote. But he added that “Officer Loehmann’s belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat.”
Tamir’s death resulted in a lengthy series of investigations that have frustrated some activists, who see the shooting as a clear case of police overreach and have called for the arrests of Officer Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, who drove his police cruiser to within feet of Tamir but who did not fire his weapon. Some have criticized Officer Garmback for parking his cruiser so close.
“To suggest that Officer Garmback should have stopped the car at another location is to engage in exactly the kind of ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ the case law exhorts us to avoid,” Mr. Sims wrote.
Tamir Rice, 12, was killed.
Mr. McGinty said in a statement that his office continued to investigate the case and had invited the Rice family’s lawyers to submit their own expert reports.
“We are not reaching any conclusions from these reports,” Mr. McGinty said. “The gathering of evidence continues and the grand jury will evaluate it all.”
Tamir’s age added to the outrage of many activists, though the police on the scene said in interviews that they thought he was several years older. In her report, Ms. Crawford said Tamir’s age was not relevant in determining whether Officer Loehmann acted reasonably.
“When he exited the police car, the officer was likely focused on Rice’s hands as they moved to his waist and lifted his jacket, and not on Rice’s age,” Ms. Crawford wrote. “Even if Officer Loehmann was aware of Rice’s age, it would not have made his use of force unreasonable. A 12-year-old with a gun, unquestionably old enough to pull a trigger, poses a threat equal to that of a full-grown adult in a similar situation.”
Mr. Sims noted that the officers did not know Tamir’s age. A dispatcher did not pass on the 911 caller’s statements that the gun was “probably fake” and that the person holding it was “probably a juvenile.”
Jonathan S. Abady, a Rice family lawyer, said in a statement that “we now have grave concerns that there will be no criminal prosecution.”
“Prosecutors exercise substantial influence over the grand jury process and whether an indictment will issue or not,” he said. “The video footage and other evidence readily available from the outset made clear that this was a completely unreasonable use of deadly force against Tamir.”
Mr. McGinty provided no timeline of when a grand jury would decide on charges, but said more reports had been commissioned by his office and would be released as they were finished.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Powered by WPeMatico