CLEVELAND (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict a white rookie police officer in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a black youngster who was shot while playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun, a prosecutor said Monday.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said it was “indisputable” that the boy was gunned down while drawing the pistol from his waistband — either to hand the weapon over to police or to show them it wasn’t real. But McGinty said the officer and his partner had no way of knowing that.
“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,” McGinty said. He said patrolman Timothy Loehmann was justified in opening fire: “He had reason to fear for his life.”
Tamir’s family condemned the decision but echoed the prosecutor in urging those disappointed to express themselves “peacefully and democratically.” Barricades were set up outside a Cleveland courthouse in case of protests, and a few demonstrators gathered, holding up pictures of Tamir and others killed by police around the country.
A grainy surveillance-camera video of the boy’s November 2014 shooting provoked outrage nationally, and together with other killings of black people by police in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, it helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement.
Tamir was gunned down by Loehmann within two seconds of the officer’s police cruiser skidding to a stop near the boy outside a city recreation center. Loehmann and his white training partner, Frank Garmback, were responding to a 911 call about a man waving a gun.
Tamir was carrying a borrowed airsoft gun that looked like a real gun but shot nonlethal plastic pellets. It was missing its telltale orange tip.
The grand jury had been hearing evidence and testimony since mid-October.
In explaining the decision not to charge either officer, McGinty said police radio personnel contributed to the tragedy by failing to pass along the “all-important fact” that the 911 caller said the gunman was probably a youngster and the gun probably wasn’t real.
Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Meyer said it was “extremely difficult” to tell the difference between the pellet gun and a real one. And he said Tamir was big for his age — 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, with a men’s XL jacket and size-36 pants — and could have easily passed for someone much older.
Before police arrived, the youngster was seen repeatedly drawing the gun from his waistband and pointing it at other children, Meyer said.
“There have been lessons learned already. It should never happen again, and the city has taken steps so it doesn’t,” McGinty said.
Among other things, the Cleveland police department is putting dashboard cameras in every car and equipping officers with bodycams.
Also, the police department reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department earlier this year to overhaul its use of force. The settlement was prompted largely by a car chase that ended with the killing of a couple in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire.
In a statement, Tamir’s family said it was “saddened and disappointed by this outcome — but not surprised.” It accused the prosecutor of “abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment.”
Tamir’s family charged that McGinty improperly hired use of-force experts to tell the grand jury that Loehmann’s actions were reasonable. The family also said that the prosecutor allowed the officers to read statements to the grand jury without being subjected to cross-examination.
The family renewed its request for the U.S. Justice Department to step in and conduct “a real investigation.” Federal prosecutors in Cleveland noted Monday that a civil rights investigation into the case is already underway.
In addition, Tamir’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the two officers and the city.”
Read the rest at townhall.com
Rest in peace, power, and in the arms of our loving embrace, dear Tamir; tragically, you’ll be twelve years old…forever.
(The most recent coverage of the trial testifying at the Café is here: ‘Cuyahoga Prostitutor McGinty Releases Another Cop-Vindicating Report in the Execution of Tamir Rice’, November 13, 2015)
‘An Open Letter to Tamir Rice’ by Rev Sekou, my favorite preacher in the black prophetic fire tradition, courtesy of my friend hfcMofo, our friend hotflashcarol at my.fdl, via Ebony.com:
America has failed you, yet again. This nation gorges on our flesh, and yet it is never satiated. Your mother’s wails could not wake democracy from its deep slumber. And we cannot protect you, not from a brutal and lonely death, not from vilification, not from the exoneration of your murderers. We are powerless, and we mourn. It must seem the case that our people are insane. We march and march and keep marching, getting the same results but forever expecting America to be different.
So we must change. Law and order—a whip and a gun— can be our only expectation and unreasonable the force that will be used on our flesh. You were the burnt offering for America’s second sin. What are we to believe of a nation that claims its right to exist on stolen land?
In your name, dear one, we shall take to the streets and register our lamentations before idols that have eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear. Our cry is not for them but for our own ears lest we become dumb. Neither the maddening fact that we are never safe nor the insufferable truth of degradation can be your eulogy.
Your name sounds like Trayvon. It alone warranted democracy to let loose its vanity on your precious self. The mere sight of you caused men to bear arms against a baby. Our cry will march—some may burn— others will pray. A few will do all of above. America will continue along her merry way not batting an eyelid or shedding a tear.
I am sure you were taught to always tell the truth. And yet your homeland was founded by liars; the whole lot of them. The scared text of the democracy—the Constitution—is a bible of lies. For none of these scriptures hold true for you, nor your mother, her mother, or her mother before her. Those who gunned you down are sworn to protect and serve on the basis of a two-fold lie—that we are not human and that democracy is real. America is as far from the truth as you are from your mother’s touch. Yet we believe.
The United States continues to be a war zone for us. If you had lived, you’d have heard the names Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland and Jamar Clark. Your young mind would have wrestled with their lives lost, perhaps wondered if you were next. You fell before them and we carry you all because we believe—not in the country or its constitution – but in you.
All we have left is our undying love for our future. I bet you heard old folks talk about the good old days. How they wished your generation could be more like theirs. Nostalgia is a form of mourning, because the present is unbearable, and the future is unforeseeable. You are all we can see. Rest in peace knowing that we will resist.
Our resistance, like our expectations, must change. It is clear the mainstream is a cesspool and the ever-so-cherished Dream is an [un]reality show. At times, our resistance is tainted by the intoxicating fantasy of America. Fallacious sentiments abound: “If they knew more” or “If we did better”… causing the speaker and hearer alike to believe the lie. Cameras cannot save us. The world saw you murdered, and still they deny it. We contort our righteous rage to fit into a cell reserved for prisoners of hope. Thus we must become something else—ourselves. Full and free—swinging on swings—living as though our lives depend upon. Living into us until there is no lie. For sure this has been our fore-parent’s aspiration since being forced to this godforsaken land.
Lives – America’s commodity – are bought and stolen every other day but we must live. This is our hope. To keep doing the very thing that was denied to you. There is nothing ironic about that choice. If we are alive then we might have a chance at joy. To be black and live in America is to resist, and to live a life of resistance demands a sense of joy.
We are crying now and filled with rage because we are what they say we are not – human. Though capricious death is our ever-present companion, we breathe in spite of it. In the midst of a death dealing civilization, the life of a black child taken too soon – as most are – takes our breath every time but for a moment. Demands for forgiveness are followed by the necessity to “keep on keeping on” and a mighty people keeps trying not to die. We live with the expectation that they will continue to kill us. And for that I am sorry. But we will continue to resist. We will not cease to resist.
Yours in love and lament,
Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou
Amen, and bless your heart, Rev Sekou.
In case you hadn’t seen it yet: December 22:
did i forget to say: “fuck the police”? and “fuck the grand jury CYA system”?
16 mins ago:
i’m not a gun nutter & don’t really understand the appeal, but the looks of disbelief & shock when “gun violence” comes up and i say, “so you are against gun violence? so you want to disarm the police, right?” the blind deference to authority, the stunning amount of ignorance about who’s really killing people in this world, the soft mooing of thoughtless & heartlesss banalities in order to fit in w/the largely white, middle-class herd. on what basis does the grand jury not vote to at least move the process along? racism and blind obedience?
wish i had the energy to respond more lucidly, jason, but i can’t stop playing the video, imagining all that it will take to stop the killing, institutional racism, and tra la la. but of course, it all begins with this nation being born through the genocide of the indigenous, then the capitalism of slavery, and the calculated creation/birth of the comprador class willing to sell out their brethren and sistren for power and higher wages. and of course then, the churches willing to imagine their relief in heaven, rather than challenging the system further than the civil rights gains in the 60s.
i don’t recall reading of the racial make-up of this GJ, but in many cases, even trial juries, the results weren’t always along racial lines, which does say something, though without interviews, we must speculate on the hows and whys. your ‘blind obedience’ may lean that way.
yep, there ha been a ‘disarm the police‘ movement in NYC, and many other solutions like the New black panthers ‘arm ourselves’, and ‘black community policing’, all of which i’ve brought here over the past year.
but if you look at the link of the last Café post on all of this, you may get an inkling of how ‘expert testimony’ and court room reenactments can sway a bored-to-tears grand jury (not excusing them).
Town Hall – whooooshhhhh. Nice to be reminded what comments are like elsewhere from time to time. Presumption of thug by racial identity while protesting racial idenfiers in the news article.
Repeated on the internet: White supremacy is when a cop kills a 12-year-old kid with a gun and claims it was a man with a gun.
And don’t you know that the Cleveland PD chief has taken the oath of omerta.
Looking increasingly like the institution of police forces has lost its utility with respect to anything called “law” or better still anything called “justice”. Fessing up to its original purpose and then abolishing it seems more reasonable than ever. Especially considering its new policy of capital punishment for the mentally ill.
capital punishment for the mentally ill and far, far too often for those ‘in custody’, although come to think of it, many of them have mental health issues, don’t they? whoosh, indeed, and i didn’t even include this, speak of FOH:
‘Steve Loomis, the head of Cleveland’s largest police union, said the organization was pleased with the grand jury’s finding but added the decision “is no cause for celebration, and there will be none.”’
i’d add that the whole fucking system just keeps on show its illegitimacy. when will we hit a tipping point of critical mass among those willing to acknowledge it? serve and protect whom™ we should be asking.
oh, and it’s so nice to see you; i’d been concerned that your absence may have indicated some weather-disaster had hit you hard. my best to miz THD, please.
Best to you folks. Your blizzards are more weather than our rain that has made our clay squishy. We at least have some protection from the Appalachians for Oklahoma and Alabama weather although we have had tornados through here (last close one was in 1989, about four miles toward town from here.
‘squishy clay’ might not be the emergency i’d feared. ;-) yeah, blizzards can be awful, plus the occasional avalanches. it’s snowing again here, welcome moisture with a few disadvantages not worth grousing about.
we’d be fine if everything in the house weren’t old and cranky as we are, so breaking down all at once. even mr. wd’s truck blew up, so…he bought a slightly older one on time. it’s already in the mechanic’s shop.
i had missed this, though:
Baltimore prosecutor = Mosby, who has been threatened as a “traitor” by the Baltimore police union. If you go to take down the king, it pays not to miss. I’m not sure Mosby has figured a way to get around jury nullification, the traditional white racist way of getting murderers off the hook.
A prosecutor who was elected in Cleveland with 41,000 votes. Is up in a primary early next year. Focusing on one good candidate (and not splintering opposition to him) and turning out the vote can put this joker out of office. Just have to turn out overwhelming numbers for someone solidly vetted as qualified and making changes. You still have the problem of jury and grand jury nullification to contend with. No reason for this joker to still draw from the public purse.
ay yi yi, though; o’malley has some detractors, yes? interesting history on mcginty, for sure. i reckon the police unions in baltimore and cuyahoga county will be engaged in some heavy GOTV efforts.
rahmbo, otoh, is exclaiming ‘better practices!!!‘ yawn.
Better practices = taser to ya’ instead of threatening a gun
Bet the gun deaths continue unabated, supplemented by more taser deaths.
What are police unions for except to turn out the vote for the machine? Worked like a charm for Richard J. Daley. Mostly Irish in those days as well.
i would be surprised if you’re not exactly right. i almost said ‘tammany hall’ gotv, but i looked it up, and that was NYC, of course. i couldn’t recall the name of the chicago machine.
(i’m working waaaay too hard on a long piece about the hegemon and africa; i may divide in halves, and both will still be too long, i fear.) poor africa and recolonization by ‘the good guys’, doncha know. so depressing it is.
To epitomize and endorse your 12/28, 3:16 disposition:
can an image be more iconic, bruce? thank you, and i hope you are well…or at least well enough.
Cleveland’s Democratic primary is set with two losers McGinty and O’Malley to choose between. But the Democratic executive committed made no endorsement; some are hoping that a suitable and well-known independent will enter the race before independent filings close in March. As of now, there is FOP candidate and an old machine candidate.
like yourself, i will hope for the best, but so often a candidate who is elected…fails to deliver, much in the way that we have seen, when a black man or woman zips on the police.sheriff uniform, that person becomes a tool of the state.
i suppose that’s the key reason i am ‘meh’ about ‘black policing for black communities’ in the end. it would be lovely to believe that all PoC are acting in service of their brethren, but it doesn’t appear to be so. Ping: for instance, blacks in some LA parishes owned black slaves, and so on.