Activists rebuked the prosecutor handling the case of the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy, who was playing with a replica pistol, by police.
On Sunday, two reports into the November 2014 shooting of Tamir Rice by Patrolman Timothy Loehmann were released by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Tim McGinty. The reports concluded that Loehmann was “reasonable” to have shot Tamir. The little boy had been described in the 911 call as a man waving and pointing a gun, and was perceived by Loehmann as a serious threat. Tamir was shot twice in the abdomen, after Loehmann’s partner drove the police vehicle to within 5 feet of where the boy was playing. As reported by the Huffington Post, the gun that Tamir was playing with was a replica pistol that shoots pellets.
However, the claim that Loehmann was reasonable to have fatally shot Tamir elicited stark reprehension from Cleveland 8, a group of clergy, academics and activists who called for the police officers who shot Tamir to be indicted. “It looks as though the prosecutor is trying to taint the grand jury process as well as manipulate the judicial process overall,” Edward Little, of the Cleveland 8, said.
According to CBS News, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association is being held accountable for not cooperating with the investigation into the death of Tamir. “The union operates by a double standard,” McGinty said. “It rightly asks the general public to have the courage to cooperate with police in serious criminal investigations, yet when the conduct of officers is being investigated, refuses to help.”
Meanwhile, Union President, Steve Loomis, said, “What [McGinty] expects us to do, because we’re police officers, is just ignore the Constitution. Loomis further added, “We have rights like every other American citizen out there. We have rights just like the bad guys that we’re interviewing.”
The reports were also criticized by the lawyer of the family of Tamir.
In a statement, the family of Tamir said that it “now believes that the prosecutor’s office has been on an 11-month quest to avoid providing that accountability. Any presentation to a grand jury–without the prosecutor advocating for Tamir–is a charade. To get so-called experts to assist in the whitewash–when the world has the video of what happened–is all the more alarming.”
Little further said the reports and the findings were “reminiscent” of the way the case of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown was handled, wherein details of the case were leaked to the media before the decision of not charging the involved police officers was made by the grand jury. “This community has lost all hope in this prosecutor to be fair and impartial,” Little said.
In May, Michael Brelo was acquitted on voluntary manslaughter charges in the shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Russell’s car had backfired outside police headquarters. The sound was mistaken by the officers as gunfire. This led to a high-speed chase and the eventual shooting.
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