On Tuesday (December 29), the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that two Cleveland, Ohio police officers will not be facing federal charges in the 2014 fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
DOJ officials say video footage of the event is too poor quality to definitively determine what happened that day outside of a recreation center.
A statement released by the Department indicates that the officers’ actions weren’t condoned with the decision not to bring federal charges, only that there wasn’t enough conclusive evidence to support prosecution on the grounds of federal criminal civil rights violation.
On November 22, 2014, Tamir was playing with a pellet gun outside when he was fatally shot by Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. The officers shot Tamir within seconds of arriving on the scene. A call was made by a man drinking beer and waiting for a bus who told 911 dispatchers that a “guy” was pointing a gun at people. The man reported that the person was probably a youth and that the gun might be “fake,” but those details weren’t given to the officers, as reported by ABC News.
Tamir’s death sparked national outrage and galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement. His death also furthered the discussion of police force and racial profiling of Black children.
The Justice Department said in order to bring federal charges, they would have to prove that the officers willfully broke the law, and that their actions weren’t the result of a mistake or bad judgment.
An attorney for Tamir’s family, Subodh Chandra, said the DOJ’s “process was tainted” and the family wants more information about the recommendations made during the investigation.
“It’s beyond comprehension that the Department couldn’t recognize that an officer who claims he shouted commands when the patrol car’s window was closed and it was a winter day is lying,” Chandra said. “The Rice family has been cheated of a fair process yet again.”
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