A Cleveland police officer under investigation in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, killed while carrying a pellet gun in a park last November, used reasonable force against the boy, according to two reports.
The two probes were conducted at the request of the investigating prosecutor’s office as it presents evidence to a grand jury, which will decide whether to charge the officer. Both reports—one by a senior prosecutor in Denver and a second by a retired supervisory special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation—found the actions by Timothy Loehmann, an officer who was in field training, were reasonable.
Both reports noted that Tamir’s age shouldn’t be a factor and that police officers are often forced to make “split-second” judgments. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office also released a third review, a reconstruction of events by the Ohio Highway Patrol.
“There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking,” said S. Lamar Sims, the Denver prosecutor, a member of a team that investigates shootings involving police. But “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.”
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty accuses the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association of failing to cooperate with the investigation into the death of Tamir Rice. The union counters that McGinty is just grandstanding.
It is the latest clash between a prosecutor and union who fought over the prosecution of another officer in a racially-charged case in a city under federal scrutiny for how its police force interacts with the public.
“The union operates by a double standard,” McGinty said. “It rightly asks the general public to have the courage to cooperate with police in serious criminal investigations, yet when the conduct of officers is being investigated, refuses to help.”
Image Credit: Family of Tamir Rice