Two outside investigators examining the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November 2014 concluded that Cleveland police officers acted reasonably, CNN reports.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty released the findings Saturday. He said in a statement that a grand jury will ultimately decide whether criminal charges against the officers are warranted.
Tamir was playing with a pellet gun at a Cleveland recreational center when Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback pulled up to him Nov. 22, 2014. A video captured the moment when the officers in a patrol car, responding to a 911 call, pull up to Tamir. Loehmann shoots the boy within seconds of arriving. The officers reportedly were not aware that a witness had said that the gun was probably a fake and that Tamir looked like a juvenile.
“There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking,” S. Lamar Sims, the senior chief deputy district attorney in Denver and one of the two independent experts, wrote in his report (pdf). “However, for all of the reasons discussed herein, I conclude that Officer Loehmann’s belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat.”
The two independent reports, as well as a third one by the Ohio Highway Patrol, were posted on the prosecutor’s website.
Subodh Chandra, an attorney for Rice’s family, said the experts are “pro-police,” adding that they are part of a “whitewashing” of the shooting, according to CNN.
“Any presentation to a grand jury—without the prosecutor advocating for Tamir—is a charade,” Chandra said, questioning McGinty’s commitment to pursuing justice for Tamir. “To get so-called experts to assist in the whitewash—when the world has the video of what happened—is all the more alarming.”