CLEVELAND (CN) - The police officer who shot and killed Tamir Rice will not face criminal charges, a prosecutor said Monday, announcing the results of a lengthy grand jury investigation into the 12-year-old's death.
Rice had been playing alone with a pellet gun in a park on Nov. 22, 2014, when he was shot, but Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said there was no way for officers to know whether the child was pulling the toy from his waistband to fire on them or turn it over to them, according to a copy of his statement.
McGinty called it "indisputable" Monday that Rice had been drawing the toy from his waistband when Officer Timothy McGinty unloaded his weapon on the boy.
Surveillance footage released shortly after the shooting showed that it took less than 2 seconds for Loehmann to get out of the car and shoot Rice after his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, careened their squad car to a stop in front of the boy.
An assistant prosecutor in McGinty's office told reporters Monday that the officers' actions complied with the Cleveland Division of Police's policy on active shooters.
Loehmann and Garmback had probable cause to consider that Rice posed a real threat because police dispatch concluded that it had received a credible tip from a 911 caller who provided his name and contact information.
The dispatcher furthermore informed Loehmann and Garmback that the threat was a Code 1, which is the highest-priority call to which Cleveland police can respond.
Both police officers are white, while Rice was black, fueling support for the Black Lives Matter movement in Cleveland.
Since the start of the grand jury investigation in mid-October, attorneys for the Rice family at the firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady have blasted McGinty's office as biased toward the police department.
Emery Celli called upon Attorney General Loretta Lynch to intervene earlier this month, citing charges Cleveland settled back in May after the U.S. government blasted the city for its "troubling patterns" of excessive and deadly force.
The law firm noted Monday that the Rice not surprised by the grand jury's vote, but nevertheless "saddened and disappointed by this outcome."
"It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment," the firm said in a statement. "Even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second, Prosecutor McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses to try to exonerate the officers and tell the grand jury their conduct was reasonable and justified. It is unheard of, and highly improper, for a prosecutor to hire 'experts' to try to exonerate the targets of a grand jury investigation. These are the sort of 'experts' we would expect the officer's criminal defense attorney to hire - not the prosecutor."
The lawyers likewise slammed prepared statements that McGinty allowed Loehmann and Garmback to read to the grand jury "without answering any questions on cross-examination."
"This special treatment would never be given to non-police suspects," the firm added.
McGinty's mishandling of the grand jury process "has compounded the grief of this family," according to the statement.
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