A grand jury has declined to bring criminal charges against two Cleveland police officers involved in the fatal shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice.
"Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police," Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty told reporters.
The grand jury has been hearing testimony since October about the fatal shooting of Tamir by police last year. It was deciding whether to indict Timothy Loehmann — the officer who shot Tamir — and his partner, Frank Garmback.
Tamir was playing with an air gun in a public park last year when someone called the police. The caller mentioned the gun might be fake, go figure!! But "the dispatcher didn't relay the caller's doubts," and "within seconds Officer Timothy Loehmann stepped out of the passenger side and fired two shots, striking Tamir once in the abdomen."
In explaining the decision, McGinty added that a recent enhancement of the surveillance video was "perhaps the most critical piece of evidence." He said that because of that new enhancement, "it is now indisputable that Tamir was drawing his gun from his waist as the police car slid toward him and Officer Loehmann exited the car."
"At the point where they suddenly came together, both Tamir and the rookie officer were no doubt frightened. If we put ourselves in the victim's shoes, as prosecutors and detectives try to do, it is likely that Tamir, whose size made him look much older and who had been warned that his pellet gun might get him into trouble that day, either intended to hand it over to the officers or show them that it wasn't a real gun. But there was no way for the officers to know that, because they saw the events unfolding in front of them from a very different perspective".
Family members released a statement Monday through their lawyer, accusing McGinty of "abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment," the Associated Press reported.
The family had called for the prosecutor to step down from the investigation. The U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said in a statement after the decision that they are continuing their review of the death.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams told reporters that an administrative review will now proceed, which could result in disciplinary action if the officers are found to have violated police policies or procedures. He added that the two officers remain on restricted duty.