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Courts and Crime


Cuyahoga grand jury decides not to indict officers in Tamir Rice killing
McGinty calls it a "perfect storm of human error;" protests begin; U.S. attorney says his independent investigation will continue
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA
and M.L. SCHULTZE


Reporter
Kabir Bhatia
 
This memorial at Cudell Rec Center on Cleveland's west side has been in place since the day after Tamir Rice was shot in November, 2014.
Courtesy of KABIR BHATIA
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
A Cleveland grand jury has decided not to indict two police officers in the November 2014 shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Prosecutor Tim McGinty says a "perfect storm of human error" led to the death of Tamir Rice, who was holding what turned out to be a toy pellet gun when he was shot by police within two seconds of their arriving.



McGinty says it was tragic, not criminal

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"The death of Tamir Rice was an absolute tragedy. It was horrible, unfortunate and regrettable. But it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime."

The boy was shot outside the Cudell recreation center on Cleveland's west side on a Saturday afternoon in November 2014 after a 9-1-1 caller reported someone pointing a gun outside the center was making people nervous. The 9-1-1 dispatcher never told the officers the caller repeatedly said the gun was likely fake, and the person with it was likely a juvenile.

Assistant Prosecutor Matt Meyer says that led the officers to act on one set of beliefs, "that a real man, with a real gun, was threatening innocent people's lives at a recreation center."

Meyer on what the officers believed
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The decision not to indict Cleveland officer Timothy Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, wraps up a more than year-long criminal investigation by the Cuyahoga County sheriff, prosecutor and grand jury.

McGinty says newly enhanced video shows that it is "indisputable" that Tamir was removing his gun from his waistband when he was shot. He says it's almost certain that the boy intended to hand it over to the officers or to show them that it wasn't a real gun. But he says there's no way the officers could have known that.

And, McGinty says, it all led to tragic results:

McGinty on the perfect storm
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"Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police."

Given the circumstances,  Assistant Prosecutor Meyer says an acquittal of the officers was almost certain had they been charged.

Meyer on likelihood of acquittal
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"We do not believe that any reasonable judge or a jury would find criminal conduct in officer Loehmann's reation to a suspect pulling what he thought was a real gun."

After the grand jury decision was announced, the city announced it is launching an investigation into whether the two officers should still face disciplinary charges. The U.S. Attorney's office said it will continue an independent review. The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association said the decision was the right one, adding, "while there is absolutely no upside to this issue, there are lessons that should and will be learned by all." And several dozen protesters began marches.



Related Links & Resources
One year later, Tamir Rice's family still wants answers


Related WKSU Stories

Cuyahoga Prosecutor McGinty insists he'll stay on Tamir Rice case
Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Officers' statements in the Tamir Rice shooting are made public
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

One year later, Tamir Rice's family still wants answers
Monday, November 23, 2015

Third expert: Police shooting of Tamir Rice was justified
Friday, November 13, 2015

Rookie officer who shot Tamir Rice previously not hired by sheriff's office
Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cleveland council continues its 'listening sessions' regarding police
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

'Noticeable progress' reported in Cleveland's police reform effort
Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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