A grand jury has refused to indict either of the two Cleveland police officers involved in the November 2014 killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The decision, which Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced Monday, caused outrage amongst both Rice’s family and the larger community of people concerned about the excessive use of police force against black Americans. The big question is what happens in the Tamir Rice case now.
Though the grand jury decided not to pursue an indictment, the legal ramifications of Rice’s shooting haven’t concluded yet. Rice’s family filed a wrongful death case against the officers and the city of Cleveland; that’s separate from the criminal case, which wrapped up today and was pursued by the county itself. Rice's family filed the civil case the month after he was killed, and it’s still pending.
In addition, Rice’s family asked the Department of Justice to conduct its own review of the shooting earlier in December. Additionally, several federal law enforcement bodies are now looking into the case. After McGinty announced the grand jury’s decision, the Department of Justice released the following statement:
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the United States Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been monitoring the investigation that has been conducted regarding the death of Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, 2014. We will continue our independent review of this matter, assess all available materials and determine what actions are appropriate, given the strict burdens and requirements imposed by applicable federal civil rights laws.
The phrasing of this is a bit vague. Is the DOJ investigating the circumstances of the shooting itself, or is it merely examining how Cuyahoga County carried out its own investigation into the shooting? Bustle’s request to the DOJ for clarification haven’t yet been returned; however, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Cleveland told Reuters that the FBI and DOJ are conducting “an independent review of Rice’s death.”
Lastly, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said after McGinty’s announcement that the officers who killed Rice could still face disciplinary action. The city and its police department are continuing with an administrative review of the case, Jackson said, and the two officers “will remain on restricted duty.”
When the grand jury’s decision was announced, Rice’s family said in a statement that they were “saddened and disappointed by this outcome — but not surprised.” They accused McGinty of “abusing and manipulating” the grand jury process, and again called on the DOJ to conduct a “real” investigation into Rice’s death. The grand jury's decision is not what Rice's family had hoped for, but it's not the last step in the legal process, either.