Tamir Rice Case: Judge Says Officers Can Be Charged In Pre-Teen’s Death [Video]

The officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice could be charged with murder. Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald B. Adrine ruled on Thursday that there was probable cause to charge Officer Timothy Loehmann with numerous offenses, including murder and reckless homicide. His partner Officer Frank Garmback could face a charge of negligent homicide behind the Rice shooting.

The Tamir Rice shooting is one of a series of recent controversies related to the disturbing trend of police officers fatally accosting black citizens who are ultimately unarmed. In the case of Tamir, the preteen was fatally shot after Loehmann and his partner responded to a 911 call. The caller said that Rice was “waving a gun around” and although the person acknowledged the item was probably fake, this was not told to the officer.

In footage of the incident, Loehmann was shown firing his weapon within seconds of arriving on the scene. There was no evidence that Tamir Rice was given a chance to put the toy gun down before the police officer opened fire. Police claimed the officers told Rice to drop what they assumed was a weapon.

Even though the 10-page ruling by Adrine lays the groundwork for a possible case, the judge cannot push the matter forward. Only a prosecutor can…and by his own admission, Timothy J. McGinty is in no hurry.

McGinty did not appreciate what he felt was an attempt by the judge to force his hand.

“This case, as with all other fatal use-of-deadly-force cases involving law enforcement officers, will go to the grand jury. That has been the policy of this office since I was elected. Ultimately, the grand jury decides whether police officers are charged or not charged.”

What’s interesting about this sentiment is that the ruling by Adrine could influence a grand jury to indict the officers for Tamir Rice’s murder.

According to the LA Times, Loehmann was released from his previous position due to “poor performance”. He had also reportedly showed “signs of emotional disturbance during firearms training”. As with the judge’s ruling, this information could have a significant impact on a grand jury’s decision.

In addition to the pursuit of criminal charges, the family of Tamir Rice has filed a lawsuit. Part of that suit is on hold for 60 says to protect the accused officers from possible 5th amendment violations. It’s important to note that in certain circumstances, evidence from a criminal case can be used in a civil lawsuit.

Do you agree with the judge’s ruling about the Tamir Rice case?

[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons]

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