To the frustration of many, an Ohio grand jury declined to indict two Cleveland police officers in the November 2014 fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was playing with a plastic toy gun in a local park.
On Monday afternoon, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced that the jurors cleared Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback due to a lack of evidence indicating criminal activity.
The prosecutor also said that he supported the decision to not file any charges against the officers, since Rice was brandishing a toy gun and Loehmann reportedly feared for his life, which led him to shoot the boy.
Rice’s death was one of the most controversial cases of 2014 that added to national outrage over white officers killing African Americans. In circumstances like this, when police brutality has become a plight in the United States, the jury’s decision wasn’t entirely unexpected. In fact, victim’s family has claimed that they might have been “disappointed” by the outcome but they were not “surprised.”
In a blistering statement mirroring their dissatisfaction over the grand jury’s decision, the Rice family has accused McGinty of “abusing and manipulating the grand jury process.”
“Prosecutor McGinty deliberately sabotaged the case, never advocating for my son, and acting instead like the police officers’ defense attorney,” the statement said. “As the video shows, Officer Loehmann shot my son in less than a second. All I wanted was someone to be held accountable. But this entire process was a charade.”
Meanwhile, the family attorneys have also said that despite the video evidence, they knew that the decision would not go in their favor.
“It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment,” the attorneys said. “Even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second, Prosecutor McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses to try to exonerate the officers and tell the grand jury their conduct was reasonable and justified.”
They claimed that it is unprecedented and highly inappropriate for a prosecutor to hire experts to exonerate the targets of a grand jury investigation. The family’s attorneys also said they are renewing their request for the Department of Justice to “step in to conduct a real investigation.”
Just earlier this month, the officer tried for death of Freddie Gray — another African-American victim of police brutality — walked free thanks to a hung jury. Similarly, another grand jury in Texas decided not to issue indictments relating to the death of African-American woman Sandra Bland, who died while in police custody.