On Monday, a prosecutor in Cuyahoga County, Ohio announced that no charges would be filed in the case of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy shot by police in November 2014. A grand jury declined to indict either of the two officers who would potentially face charges in regard to Rice's death.
"We explained to [Tamir Rice's mother] that this was a difficult decision, but also that to charge police, even in a situation as undeniably tragic as the death of her son, the state must be able to show that the officers acted outside the constitutional boundaries," county prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said, calling the situation a "perfect storm of human error, mistakes, miscommunications." He added, "The officers did not commit criminal conduct."
McGinty added that the incident was "regrettable," and that the officers involved, 26-year-old Timothy Loehmann and 46-year-old Frank Garmback, must now live with the knowledge that their actions led to the death of a 12-year-old boy. He encouraged the community to continue voicing its concerns, but urged local leaders to use caution when reviewing rumors surrounding the case. He added that there were a bevy of facts and reports that would justify the grand jury's decision, as disheartening as it likely was for both the family and Rice's supporters, who have been protesting his death and the actions of the police since late last year.
On the afternoon of November 22, 2014, Cuyahoga Police responded to a 911 call from a man who claimed that a "guy" was pointing a pistol at random parkgoers near Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland. The man noted at the time that the pistol was "probably fake" and that the suspect was likely a "juvenile," although on Monday, a spokesman for an independent investigation noted that the dispatcher had failed to notify police of those two key facts. When police arrived on the scene, said the spokesman, they noticed Rice holding a pellet gun and opened fire, striking him in the stomach. Rice was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died one day later.
Police were "prepared to face a possible active shooter" situation, McGinty said. "[They were] trained to ... react quickly to any threat," he added. The investigation spokesman explained that the officers had behaved appropriately, based on the facts they had been given.
"It is clear that, had the officers known the suspect was a [young boy] and that the gun was a toy, it's likely [it would have been a] very different incident," he said.
During Monday's press conference, McGinty expressed condolences for the family, asking those unsure about the decision to review all the department's evidence, which was made available to the public. "The Rice family has suffered a grievous loss. … Now it is time for ... the community to heal," he said. "We ask [everyone] to please review the facts reported [before making judgment]. Look at the report, look at the facts, look at the law. We're not making decisions based on rumors or hearsay. These are the facts."