Withstanding freezing hail Monday evening, several dozen activists, led by the #NYCRiseUp4Tamir Coalition, rallied at lower Manhattan’s Washington Square Park after the announcement that a Cleveland grand jury declined to indict the cops involved in the fatal shooting of 12-years-young Tamir Rice last year. While carrying various signs, they conducted a moment of silence before blocking traffic on nearby streets and along the Brooklyn Bridge as they marched to the other side of the river.
“March on without fear, we’re doing this for Tamir!” they chanted, along with several anti-police epithets, while demanding the killer cops face justice.
On the Brooklyn side, the peaceful protestors were met by an “army of uniformed police.” They continued on, protesting through the downtown Brooklyn streets.
Earlier that day, as he prepared to announce the grand jury’s decision, Timothy J. McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, revealed he had recommended that the jurors not indict because although “the death of Tamir Rice was an absolute tragedy, it was horrible, unfortunate and regrettable … but it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime.” He added that the fatal encounter was a “perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications by all involved that day.”
Reports state that Rice’s mother was “broken up” when she learned the news.
The tragedy began Nov. 22, 2014, shortly after someone called 911, reporting there was “a guy with a gun” who was pointing it at people. The caller said that the weapon was “probably fake” and the person “was probably a juvenile,” but that information was not relayed to the cops by the 911 operator.
Grainy surveillance footage showed rookie cop-in-training Timothy Loehmann immediately shooting Tamir as his patrol car, driven by Frank Garmback, pulled up near the gazebo at the Cudell Rec Center on West Boulevard.
Neither cop administered first aid. Rice died in the hospital the next day.
There was also no proof either cop shouted warnings before shooting Rice, because the car’s windows were up.
After 13 months of investigations, Rice’s family remained very skeptical. Their attorney released a statement Monday evening, accusing McGinty’s office of mishandling the investigation.
“Prosecutor McGinty deliberately sabotaged the case, never advocating for my son, and acting instead like the police officers’ defense attorney,” reads the statement. “In a time in which a non-indictment for two police officers who have killed an unarmed Black child is business as usual, we mourn for Tamir, and for all of the Black people who have been killed by the police without justice. In our view, this process demonstrates that race is still an extremely troubling and serious problem in our country and the criminal-justice system.”
The statement continued, “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, even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second.”
Rice’s family also accused prosecutors of favoring the cops by allowing them to submit written statements to the grand jury, rather than testifying on the stand, which would subject them to cross-examination.
They also claimed that McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses, which benefitted the cops.
The Rice family stated, “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.”
Loehmann told the grand jury that he feared for his life when he shot the 12-year-old child, claiming Rice reached into his waistband. Video footage proves otherwise.
Rice’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the two cops and the city. “We renew our request that the Department of Justice step in to conduct a real investigation into this tragic shooting of a 12-year-old child,” the family said.
Justice Department officials said that they would “continue our independent review of this matter, assess all available materials and determine what actions are appropriate, given the strict burdens and requirements imposed by applicable federal civil rights laws.”
In June, in a nonbinding review, a Cleveland judge found probable cause for the charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, murder, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty against Loehmann.
“It is likely that Tamir, whose size made him look much older and who had been warned his pellet gun might get him into trouble that day, either intended to hand it over to the officers or show them it wasn’t a real gun,” McGinty said.
McGinty asked the community to “respect the process,” adding the Rice’s family may find justice in civil courts.
Records reveal Loehmann had resigned from another Ohio police department after a “dangerous loss of composure” during firearms training.
The U.S. Department of Justice continues its review of the case. Last year the DOJ found, after a two-year investigation, that Cleveland police officers were using excessive force, including the unnecessary use of guns, pepper spray and Tasers.
“We are appalled that no indictment was returned in the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, though we are not surprised, given the behavior and tone displayed by prosecutor Tim McGinty all year,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton. “We will continue to support Samaria Rice as we call for a special national prosecutor to monitor such cases, and we stand by the Rice family as they are dealt this blow during the holidays.
Cleveland community demands include the immediate termination of officers Loehmann and Garmback; a recommendation of criminal charges against the officers to the grand jury by prosecutor McGinty or McGinty’s recusal and appointment of a special prosecutor; and the release of all video and photographs documenting the murder of Rice.