In 2014, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police in Cleveland, Ohio. His family is still looking for justice. Rice’s family asked the US Department of Justice on Friday (April 16) to reopen the case of his killing after it was closed in the final weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Late last year, federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against the two police officers involved in Tamir’s death, citing poor quality of surveillance video that prevented them from determining what happened. A grand jury declined criminal charges against the officers in December 2015, leaving no prosecutions in the case.
“The truth is this case is tragically simple. Tamir Rice was a boy. On November 22, 2014, he was doing something many boys enjoy: playing with a toy gun in a park near his house,” the family’s attorneys wrote in a letter to the Justice Department.
Rice’s death sparked protests and amplified calls for police reform and came after the nation saw the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri earlier that same year.
“I’m still in so much pain because no one has been held accountable for the criminal act that took his life,” Samaria Rice, Tamir’ mother, said in a statement. “I’m asking DOJ to reopen the investigation into my son’s case; we need an indictment and conviction for Tamir’s death.”
For federal civil rights charges to be brought against the officers, federal prosecutors would be required to prove that the actions of the officers weren’t because of negligence, bad judgment, or a mistake, but that the officers willfully broke the law. US Attorney General Merrick Garland and President Joe Biden vowed to address racial violence and policing in the US, though the DOJ didn’t bring federal charges in the cases in the deaths of Garner or Brown, either.
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