Following reports that the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s investigation found that Officer Timothy Loehmann did not commit a crime when he shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014, community leaders filed a motion today seeking the arrest of the two officers involved.
Invoking a rarely used Ohio law that allows private citizens to “charge a crime on behalf of the people,” eight local activists and clergy members filed affidavits asking Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine to find probable cause to arrest police officers Loehmann and Frank Garmback. They reportedly cited charges of murder, aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty charges. This action allows them to bypass county prosecutor Timothy McGinty, whose office has not charged the men with a crime.
The group held a press conference outside the Justice Center after filing the motion. “I’m not happy that we have to do this. As an American citizen I wish I could depend on our criminal justice system to do what is right,” said Reverend R.A. Vernon, pastor at The Word Church.
“The writing is on the wall,” Walter Madison, a lawyer for Tamir’s family told The New York Times. “If you look at every other instance, it ends up unfavorable to the families.” He said that he doesn’t know of any situations where an Ohio judge issued an arrest warrant for a police officer following a citizen complaint, but also noted that most previous complaints were less than thoughtful. He worked with the group to prepare the motion.
The motion will force Adrine, the administrator of the Cleveland Municipal Court, to decide if there is enough evidence to arrest the officers before the grand jury is convened. If he does sign arrest warrants, the Loehmann and Garmback would be arraigned and bond would be set. Then the case would be sent back to McGinty’s office and he would continute preparations to present a case to the grand jury. McGinty recently prosecuted Michael Brelo, the white officer who killed two black unarmed people by standing on the hood of their car and firing 15 shots through the windshield. Brelo was acquitted in May.