The Shooting Death of Tamir Rice Ruled Reasonable

Tamir Rice.

Image: Tamir Rice | The Washington Post

The police-shooting death of Tamir Rice, 12, in November of last year, has been ruled as a reasonable shooting, says the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Timothy J. McGinty. Rice was killed by a police officer in training who spotted Rice’s pellet gun.

McGinty says a grand jury will decide if officer Timothy Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, will face charges for the boy’s death, but for now, it is believed that the officer used reasonable force. Many activists around the nation are understandably distraught by the decision, which was reached by two outside investigators, a Colorado prosecutor and a former F.B.I. supervisory agent.

Of the case Kimberly A. Crawford, the retired agent, says that “the question is not whether every officer would have reacted the same way. Rather, the relevant inquiry is whether a reasonable officer, confronting the same exact scenario under identical conditions could have concluded that deadly force was necessary.”

There was no way for the officer to conclusively tell whether the gun Rice held was fake or not, and at 12 years old, Rice would have been able to consciously pull its trigger. Police did not know Rice’s age, but Rice’s age otherwise does not factor into the case.

Rice’s family wants the officers to be held accountable for his death, but they do not believe McGinty’s office to be pursuing it. A witness called 911 to report that an individual at the recreation center had a gun, but added that the gun was “probably fake,” and that the person holding it seemed like a juvenile. This information was not conveyed to the officers who responded to the call; Rice was shot within two seconds of Loehmann exiting his patrol vehicle.

Rice family lawyer Jonathan S. Abady says that the family now has “grave concerns that there will be no criminal prosecution” against the officers.

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