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Tamir Ricevia

Police won’t be charged for killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice

Rice, who was holding a toy pellet gun, was shot dead by a white officer last year

Two police officers have been cleared of killing a 12-year-old boy, after fatally shooting him in a playground for holding a toy gun. 

Tamir Rice was fired at by Cleveland police in November 2014, after being called by witnesses who had mistaken his pellet replica for a real gun. Controversy was sparked when CCTV footage of the incident – which was released after pressure from Rice’s family – revealed rookie officer Timothy Loehmann shooting the schoolboy within seconds of arriving on the scene. 

In a damning and depressing echo of many other race-related police murders in the US, a grand jury ruled on Monday that both Loehmann and his partner Frank Garmback should be cleared of the crime – claiming that the officers made “mistakes”, but committed no criminal activity. “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,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty told a news conference shortly after the verdict was announced. 

The shooting comes just a week after the controversial Sandra Bland ruling, which also left no indictments, and raises further questions about the police’s use of deadly force against minorities. The big one being: why does nobody seem to care?

“This case has been botched from its inception by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor,” Michael Nelson Sr., president-elect of the Cleveland NAACP, said in a statement. “That this decision has taken a year is the first failing and it has been compounded by utter incompetence, racial bias and highly suspect actions of the prosecutor.”

“There is imbalance in the system that's supposed to treat all citizens with impartiality and make decisions in reliance on basic facts and probable cause,” he added. “It also gives license to police officers to act as judge, jury and executioner. That this is a trend throughout the country means that our entire criminal justice system is suspect.”

Rice's family has since filed a civil lawsuit over his death, demanding officers to be charged. In a statement released today, Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, said she was “devastated” by the decision, stating that McGinty had “deliberately sabotaged the case”. “I don’t want my child to have died for nothing and I refuse to let his legacy or his name be ignored,” she wrote. “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.”

“As the video shows, Officer Loehmann shot my son in less than a second. All I wanted was someone to be held accountable.”