A vigil marking the anniversary of the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was carrying a pellet gun which was mistaken for an actual weapon when he was fatally shot, was held Sunday.
Family and community members came together at the Cudell Recreation Center, praying and observing a moment of silence for the boy. Twelve doves were released, each for a year of his life.
The shooting had occurred on November 22, 2014, and Tamir passed away the next day. As reported by the Huffington Post, the boy had been playing with an air gun in a park. Fearing that it was a real gun, someone called the police. While the caller did mention that the weapon could be fake, the dispatcher failed to relay the same to the officers. Timothy Loehmann, who was on the passenger side of the vehicle that was driven within feet of Rice, got down and fired two shots at Tamir. One of the shots struck the victim in the abdomen.
While probable cause to charge the officers was suggested by the judge, Cuyhoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty set them aside. The investigation carried out by two independent experts in October found Loehmann’s actions “objectively reasonable.”
The gun that Tamir had on him did not have the orange safety tip, which could have indicated to the officer that it wasn’t a real weapon. The officers defended their stance, saying that Tamir was reaching for the inside of his waistband when they pulled up, according to NBC News.
A Change.org petition was created by Tamir’s cousin, LaTonya Goldsby, to seek justice for the shooting. On the petition page, she wrote, “Tamir’s killing was captured on camera. That should have been all that was needed to charge the officer.” Goldsby is suggesting that a special prosecutor should substitute McGinty in the case “to ensure that there isn’t bias.”
“There is a long history in this country of prosecutors failing to fairly investigate and prosecute allegations of police misconduct,” Goldsby said in a letter to McGinty. The same letter was also posted on the petition’s page.
The fact that no judgment has been made in the last year has caused outrage, disappointment and resentment among members of the Cleveland community. Edward Little, a criminal justice consultant, says that people are demanding answers. “I know for certain there will be outrage,” he said. “People from all over the country and the world saw that video. If there is [no indictment] in this case, people will want this prosecutor to step down.”