Yesterday, the US Justice Department announced that they did not have sufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges against the two officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 in an Ohio park.
Rice was killed when then officer Timothy Loehmann mistook Rice’s toy gun for a real firearm.
CNN reports that according to the ruling, prosecutors with both the Civil Right Division and the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio concluded that Rice’s constitutional rights were not violated and that the officers did not obstruct justice.
The release read: “In order to establish a federal civil rights violation, the government would have to prove that Officer Loehmann’s actions were unreasonable under the circumstances, and that his actions were willful… an officer is permitted to use deadly force where he reasonably believes that the suspect posed an imminent threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others… ” … an officer is permitted to use deadly force where he reasonably believes that the suspect posed an imminent threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others.”
The Justice Department would have had to prove that Rice 1.) was not reaching for the toy and 2) that Officer Loehmann did not perceive Rice was reaching for his toy despite statements to the contrary.
Jonathan Abady, an attorney for the Rice family, told CNN that Tamir’s mother, Samaria is beside herself with grief and disappointment.
Abady said, “This case involves the totally unjustified shooting of a 12-year-old child. This is part of a problem that we’ve been living with as a society for as long as anyone can remember, that is the unjustified excessive use of force by police officers against people of color. And the idea that people would not be held accountable for this is really more than upsetting.”
Records show that the person who called 911 after seeing Tamir in the park was on record as stating that Rice was “probably a juvenile” and the “gun” was “probably fake.”
The dispatcher did not share that information with officers and within less than two seconds of his arrival, Loehmann shot and killed Rice.
Loehmann was later fired from the police department in May 2017 not for the shooting but because his superiors learned that he had lied about his previous employment history. Garmback, the officer driving the patrol car, was suspended for ten days because he violated tactical rules in the way he drove up on the scene.
In 2015, a grand jury decided not to indict Loehmann and Garmback on criminal charges.
In April 2016, the city of Cleveland settled a federal wrongful death lawsuit with the Rice family for $6 million dollars.