Police Justified in Killing 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice, Say Third-Party Reports

By Kenrya Rankin Oct 12, 2015

Two third-party reports released over the weekend found that Cleveland Police Department officer Timothy Loehmann used a reasonable amount of force when he shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice

The case reviews were requested by Timothy J. McGinty, the prosecutor who will be responsible for presenting the case against officer Loehmann if a grand jury finds that he should be charged for killing Rice on November 22, 2014. “We are not reaching any conclusions from these reports,” McGinty said in a statement. “The gathering of evidence continues, and the grand jury will evaluate it all.”

Police say that on that November day, they received a 911 call about a man with a gun, but that the dispatcher did not tell them that the caller also said that he was “probably a juvenile” and that the weapon was “probably fake.” In fact, Rice was playing with a pellet gun. Surveillance video shows that Timothy Loehmann, who is white, shot Rice, who was black, within two seconds of arriving at the scene.

The reports were prepared by retired FBI agent Kimberly A. Crawford and Lamar Sims, the chief deputy district attorney in Denver. Sims wrote: “The officers did not create the violent situation. They were responding to a situation fraught with the potential for violence to citizens.”

Crawford said that Loehmann’s use of force did not violate Rice’s Fourth Amendment rights, that it doesn’t matter if he issued a warning before shooting because he perceived imminent danger, that Rice’s age is irrelevant, and that Loehmann “had no information to suggest the weapon was anything but a real handgun, and the speed with which the confrontation progressed would not give the officer time to focus on the weapon.”

The prosecutor’s office also released a report from the Ohio State Highway Patrol which reconstructed the conditions at the time of the shooting to estimate the police car’s speed (about 19 miles per hour) when it approached Rice at the Cudell Recreation Center in light of concerns that the officers increased the chance of danger by stopping their vehicle so close to Rice.

In June, Judge Ronald B. Adrine released an opinion saying that Loehmann should be charged with murder.

The Rice family’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, released a statement regarding the reports. It appears below in full:

The Rice family and Clevelanders have always said that they want the officers who rushed upon and killed 12-year-old Tamir held accountable. The family 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.

These hired guns—all pro-police—dodge the simple fact that the officers rushed Tamir and shot him immediately without assessing the situation in the least. Reasonable jurors could find that conduct unreasonable. But they will never get the chance because the prosecutor is working diligently to ensure that there is no indictment and no accountability.

Who will speak for Tamir before the grand jury? Not the prosecutor, apparently.

They also noted that they first learned about the reports via the media, as the Cuyahoga Country Prosecutor’s office released the reports to the press hours before providing them to the family.