Suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to charge po­lice in black boy’s death: US judge


A U.S. judge said Thurs­day that enough ev­i­dence ex­ists to charge two white po­lice­men in the fa­tal shoot­ing of a 12-year-old black boy who was hold­ing a pel­let gun, a largely sym­bolic rul­ing be­cause he can’t com­pel pros­e­cu­tors to charge them.

Mu­nic­i­pal Court Judge Ron­ald Adrine ruled there’s prob­a­ble cause to charge rookie of­fi­cer Ti­mothy Loehmann with mur­der, in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter, reck­less homi­cide or dere­lic­tion of duty in the Novem­ber shoot­ing death of Tamir Rice. And he ruled there’s ev­i­dence to charge Loehmann’s part­ner, Frank Garm­back, with reck­less homi­cide or dere­lic­tion of duty.

The judge made his rul­ing af­ter ac­tivists sub­mit­ted af­fi­davits ask­ing the court to rule there’s enough ev­i­dence to charge the of­fi­cers in Tamir’s death, which has spurred protests and com­plaints about treat­ment of blacks.

“This court reaches its con­clu­sions con­sis­tent with the facts in ev­i­dence and the stan­dard of proof that ap­plies at this time,” the judge wrote.

The killing of Tamir has be­come part of a na­tional out­cry about mi­nori­ties, es­pe­cially black boys and men, dy­ing while in po­lice cus­tody. Cleve­land and the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice are mov­ing for­ward on a re­for­m­minded con­sent de­cree af­ter a DOJ in­ves­ti­ga­tion found Cleve­land po­lice had en­gaged in a prac­tice of us­ing ex­ces­sive force and vi­o­lat­ing peo­ple’s rights.

The Cuya­hoga County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment re­cently com­pleted its in­ves­ti­ga­tion and gave its file to the county pros­e­cu­tor, whose staff is re­view­ing the case while pre­par­ing to take it to a grand jury to de­ter­mine if crim­i­nal charges should be filed.

Cuya­hoga County

pros­e­cu­tor Tim McGinty said Thurs­day that this case, like all other fa­tal useof- deadly- force cases in­volv­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, will go to a grand jury.

“Ul­ti­mately,” he said, “the grand jury de­cides whether po­lice of­fi­cers are charged or not charged.”

The judge wrote in his rul­ing that a video of the shoot­ing of Tamir cap­tured by a sur­veil­lance cam­era is “no­to­ri­ous and hard to watch.” The video, which was re­leased shortly af­ter the shoot­ing, shows Loehmann shoot­ing Tamir in the ab­domen within two sec­onds of a po­lice cruiser driven by Garm­back skid­ding to a stop near the boy.

The judge said he watched the video sev­eral times and was “thun­der­struck” by how quickly the en­counter turned deadly.

“There ap­pears to be lit­tle if any time re­flected on the video for Rice to re­act or re­spond to any ver­bal or au­di­ble com­ments,” he wrote.

A Rice fam­ily at­tor­ney, Wal­ter Madi­son, said the judge’s rul­ing Thurs­day was “his­toric.”

“I think it’s a blue­print for the rest of the na­tion with re­spect to cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion,” Madi­son said. “They’re able to par­tic­i­pate through en­gage­ment. They can wit­ness the trans­parency. A trans­parency leads to le­git­i­macy.”

Po­lice of­fi­cials have said Loehmann or­dered Tamir three times to put up his hands be­fore he shot the boy. A for­mer po­lice union of­fi­cial said of­fi­cers had no way of know­ing Tamir was car­ry­ing an air­soft gun that only looked like a real firearm.

The of­fi­cers had re­sponded to an emer­gency call re­port­ing that a man was point­ing and wav­ing a gun at a play­ground out­side a recre­ation cen­ter. The caller said the gun might not be real, but that in­for­ma­tion wasn’t re­layed to the of­fi­cers.


In this Nov. 25, 2014 file photo, demon­stra­tors block Public Square in Cleve­land, Ohio, dur­ing a protest over the po­lice shoot­ing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

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