December 28, 2015 3:24 PM
A grand jury in the northern U.S. city of Cleveland, Ohio has voted not to indict two police officers in the November 2014 shooting death of a 12-year-old African American boy carrying what turned out to be a fake gun.
Cleveland prosecutor Tim McGinty announced the decision Monday afternoon, capping a year of controversy and protests by activists and others who were shocked by surveillance footage of the killing of Tamir Rice.
“The outcome will not cheer anyone, nor should it,» he said, referring to the grand jury decision. «Simply put, given the perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police.»
Assistant prosecutor Matthew Meyer said the youth was seen repeatedly drawing the gun from his waistband and putting it back there in the hours before the deadly confrontation.
Attorneys representing Rice’s family differed sharply with the jury’s decision.
«It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment,» the lawyers said in a statement. «Even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second, prosecutor McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses to try to exonerate the officers by telling the grand jury their conduct was reasonable and justified.»
The video showed patrolman Timothy Loehmann fatally shooting Rice just seconds after arriving in a police cruiser to confront the youth. Police were sent to the scene after a caller alerted them about a man carrying a gun. The jury also declined to indict the driver of the police car, officer Frank Garmback.
Authorities later found Rice’s gun to be a replica pistol that shot plastic pellets. It also found that factory-installed orange markings identifying the gun as fake had been removed.
Assistant prosecutor Matthew Meyer said that, in the hours before the deadly confrontation, Tamir was seen repeatedly drawing the gun from his waistband and putting it back.
As a months-long probe of the killing unfolded, outside investigators said that «any reasonable officer» could have believed Tamir’s gun was a real firearm, and that actions based on that misidentification can be reasonable.
Tamir’s death is one of a series of high-profile police killings of African-Americans that have riled police critics and spawned nationwide protests led by «Black Lives Matter» activists and their supporters in the past year.