In November of 2014, 12-year old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a Cleveland patrolman on duty. Police received a 911 call stating there was a juvenile playing and pointing a gun at people in a Cleveland Park. Although the caller stated that the boy was probably playing with a fake gun, this information was never relayed to the police officer who shot Rice, Timothy Loehmann. A grand jury made their final decision in which they declined to indict Loehmann or other officers involved in the shooting.
Grand jury provides a reason
Timothy J. McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, recommended that the grand jurors not bring any charges to Loehmann for killing the boy. Even though this fatal encounter was a tragedy, McGinty stated that it was a mistake due to human error and miscommunication, as Loehmann’s partner also did not receive any information indicating the gun Rice had was probably fake. Video of the shooting was carefully looked at before making a decision in the case. Tamir Rice was drawing a pellet gun from his waistband when he was shot. The video didn’t make clear whether Rice was going to hand the gun over to show the officers it was not a real firearm or “shoot”. For this reason, and the fact that information was not given to Loehmann before firing his weapon, McGinty said that Loehmann did have a reason to fear for his life.
White officers killing African- Americans
This decision comes at a hard time when there has been national outrage and protests, regarding white officers killing African- Americans. This shooting took place only two days after the grand jury In Ferguson, Missouri declined to indict a white officer for fatally shooting, unarmed, 18 year old Michael Brown. A video came to light last month regarding another 2014 shooting, which took place in Chicago, Illinois. Police officer Jason Van Dyke is currently on trial for the shooting of Laquan McDonald, in which video showed him firing 16 shots into the victim. Other cases have been made public in 2015, and this case hits close to residents of Cleveland as many are outraged that there is no justice for Tamir Rice.
Rice family speaks out
After announcing that Loehmann was not guilty, lawyers for the Rice family said that Timothy McGinty both abused and manipulated the grand jury to vote against an indictment. The Rice family, along with other protesters, criticized the approach McGinty took throughout the yearlong investigation. McGinty responded back by saying that he is aware that Tamir Rice’s death is one that is tragic, however the law gives the benefit of the doubt to officers who must make split-second decisions. That is exactly what Loehmann did once he arrived on scene. He made a split-second decision to shoot Rice, not knowing that the what he had in his waistband was not a handgun, but rather a pellet gun. Although the Rice family is upset by the final decision made by the grand jury, they have expressed others who are disappointed by the decision remain peaceful.