Calling the death of a 12-year-old Tamir Rice at the hands of police on a Cleveland playground last year a "perfect storm of human error," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced on Monday that a grand jury had declined to indict any officers for his killing.
Rice, who had been playing with a toy gun at the city's Cudell Recreation Center that day in November 2014, was killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann when he fired two shots almost immediately upon rolling up in a cruiser with his partner, Frank Garmback. Family members and activists have been clamoring for murder charges ever since. But McGinty—who has been sharply criticized for a bevy of publicly-revealed expert reports suggesting the shooting was justified—did not recommend that jurors press murder charges, and insisted at a Monday press conference the video evidence that the child was reaching for his replica gun at the time of the incident was "indisputable."
Therefore, McGinty told reporters, Loehmann—who was forced out of at a previous policing gig when he lost his shit during a gun drill—was not criminally liable.
"The death of Tamir Rice was an absolute tragedy but it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime," he said Monday, adding that he informed the child's mother of the decision before going public. "It was a tough conversation… She was broken up."
The 9-1-1 caller who spurred the initial police attention to the park that day told the dispatcher the suspect was likely a kid and the gun "probably fake," but those key details never reached Loehmann and Garmback. Now Rice's family, which released its own reports suggesting the shooting was not justified, is left to hope that the feds get involved with a case of their own. That's not impossible, given the consent decree reached between the city and the Department of Justice over past police excesses in Cleveland, but for now, the yearlong investigation represents one of the more glaring instances of American prosecutors being reluctant to indict cops.