Enhanced Tamir Rice Images Released By The Prosecutor Try To Provide A Closer Look Into The Fatal Shooting
Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty released enhanced video surveillance images of Tamir Rice's shooting on Saturday. McGinty commissioned Grant Fredericks of Forensic Video Solutions in Spokane, Washington, to enhance 326 images from the footage of officer Timothy Loehmann shooting 12-year-old Rice. What exactly do the images show? According to Cleveland.com, they apparently seem to reinforce the conclusion of three reports that state Loehmann was justified in shooting and killing Rice at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio, last November.
In the key frames that capture the moments leading up to when Loehmann shot Rice, as described by comments provided with the images, Rice can be seen standing up from a bench under the recreation center's gazebo when a police cruiser drives up to him. Rice, who had a toy gun tucked into his waistband, apparently put his hands together in front of his stomach. Rice walks toward the police cruiser as it reaches the gazebo. The nose of the vehicle moves past Tamir, and he reportedly moves his right arm toward his waist. He allegedly continues moving his arm toward his waist in the next frame as the passenger door of the police vehicle opens. Rice reportedly continues to lift his right shoulder and arm, and the police vehicle is still moving as Loehmann jumps out of the front passenger seat, and shoots Rice. All of the images are available publicly from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office and include text on certain frames that attempt to describe what is happening.
The enhanced images will be presented to a grand jury that will decide whether Loehmann, who was a rookie in training at the time, and his field training officer should see criminal charges for Rice's death, according to CBS News. Three expert reports released by the prosecutor's office in October found that Loehmann acted reasonably in shooting Rice because Loehmann believed that Rice was armed with a gun. The initial 911 caller had said the boy was likely a juvenile and that the gun was "probably fake," but that information was not passed onto Loehmann and his field training officer, according to Cleveland.com.
McGinty said in a press release that his office hasn't drawn any conclusions from the footage:
Once again ... we are not reaching any conclusions from these or other isolated bits of evidence. Individually they are simply pieces of a complex puzzle.
Subodh Chandra, one of the attorney's representing Rice's mother, Samaria Rice, in a civil lawsuit against Cleveland, said in a statement that the images do not prove definitively that Rice was reaching for his waistband, according to Cleveland.com:
The video continues to reveal police officers rushing upon 12-year-old Tamir without assessing the situation, and officer Loehmann fatally shooting the child immediately. And the officers fail to administer first aid to the boy while he lay bleeding and dying on the ground.
Chandra also said McGinty's office should not have given the video to media outlets with the "editorial comments" added to the frames. She said the comments "attempt to make excuses for the officers." For example, she said Rice may have lifted his arm as part of a shocked reaction to being shot:
The effort to characterize the evidence is hardly fair play and is one of many reasons the Rice family and clergy throughout Cleveland lack confidence in the prosecutor's fairness in this matter.
Since McGinty's office released its expert reports and the videos, the Rice family's attorneys have released reports from their own experts, and said the reports by McGinty's three experts were "utterly biased and deeply flawed," according to NBC News. The network also reported that the Rice family attorneys commissioned two former law enforcement officials and consultants; they all concluded that the shooting was not justified.
One of the experts, Roger Clark, who used to be a consultant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, said Loehmann fired his weapon 1.7 seconds after exiting the police vehicle, which was not enough time for Rice to respond to any commands or for the officers to make attempts at deescalating the situation, according to NBC News.
The grand jury's session is scheduled to end in December, but it can request up to two extensions.