As Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced Monday afternoon, an Ohio grand jury declined to file charges against the officers who killed 12-year-old black boy Tamir Rice in a Cleveland park in December 2014. McGinty explained the amount of examination this particular case required, and how he recommended that the jury not file charges. Tamir Rice's family reacted to the announcement with understandable distress — but also an utter lack of surprise.
McGinty had informed the family of the decision before going public with it, and said during his statement that Samaria Rice, Tamir's mother, was "broken up." Attorneys for the family released a statement soon after the news conference, asking the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation.
During his announcement, McGinty explained that officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback were given limited information by dispatchers, who told the two officers only that there were complaints of "a man" waving a gun and pointing it at people. Evidently, the neighborhood has an unsavory reputation, so officers were quick to the scene and prepared for the worst, especially as Rice apparently drew the gun (either to reveal it was fake or to hand it over, as McGinty hypothesized) at their approach. McGinty suggested that if the officers were told that the "gun" was potentially a pellet gun, and that the "man" was potentially a child, they may have reacted much differently. He called it "a perfect storm of human error."
However, Rice's family is not so convinced of the officers' innocence. Their attorney, Subodh Chandra, was prepared for this news, despite the evidence against the officers. Experts the family hired concluded that the shooting was unjustified, while McGinty's experts determined otherwise. The family's team believes that, regardless of the information officers were or were not given, there was no justification to shoot a person within a split second of exiting a vehicle. That is not enough time to assess a situation — whether a minor was involved or not. Chandra stated:
This is apparently how long it takes to engineer denying justice to a family when the video of the incident clearly illustrates probable cause to charge the officer.
The Rice family believes that McGinty mishandled the grand jury process, while McGinty himself sounds regretful:
The outcome will not cheer anyone, nor should it ... The actions of officers Garmback and Loehmann were not criminal. The evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police.
Hopefully, this tragic event will inform interactions between police and civilians in the future, preventing further needless loss of innocent life.