Cleveland police officers involved in the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice will not face criminal charges related to the child’s death, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office announced Dec. 28.
A grand jury has been deliberating for months about the case, which has grabbed national attention as debate continues over police-involved shootings of people of color
Rice was shot Nov. 22, 2014 while on a playground in Cleveland. A 911 caller reported that Rice was playing with a handgun, but told a dispatcher that it appeared to be fake. The dispatcher did not relay that information to officers. Surveillance footage shows the officers pulling within feet of Rice in a police cruiser. In the video, officer Timothy Loehmann exits the passenger side of the cruiser and shoots Rice within a few seconds. Rice later died at the hospital.
Other cases of police-involved shootings, including July 19 shooting death of motorist Samuel DuBose by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, have moved more quickly. Tensing was indicted on murder and manslaughter charges later that summer.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has said the long process was about doing a thorough investigation. But members of Rice’s family have said they think McGinty is making efforts to protect the Cleveland Police Department. In a statement released following the grand jury’s decision, the family accused McGinty of “abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment.”
According to data culled by journalists at British publication The Guardian, more than 1,000 people have been killed in officer-involved shootings in the United States this year, including 30 in Ohio, the seventh-most of any state. Blacks are twice as likely as whites to die in those incidents.
Rice’s shooting happened just weeks before the Department of Justice released the scathing results of an 18-month investigation into the Cleveland Police Department’s use of force. In a letter earlier this month, Rice’s family called on the DOJ to investigate their son’s death. The DOJ said Dec. 15 that it is reviewing that request.