Samria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice – the 12-year-old boy who was shot dead by a Cleveland police officer last winter while holding a pellet gun – has called for an independent prosecutor to take over the investigation of her son’s death. ABC News is reporting.
Tamir Rice was shot and killed by rookie Cleveland patrol officer Timothy Loehmann on November 22, 2014, after Loehmann and his partner, Frank Gramback, responded to a 911 call about a “male pointing a gun at people” in a Cleveland park. Within seconds of Loehmann’s cruiser skidding to a stop at the park, Rice was shot dead.
Last week, Cuyahoga Prosecutor Tim McGinty released the findings of two reports by independent use-of-force experts, including a retired FBI agent and a Denver prosecutor. Both of those reports indicated that Tamir’s shooting was “justified” and “reasonable” under the circumstances, according to CBS News.
Speaking Friday at a news conference outside the Cuyahoga County Justice Center, Samaria Rice called for McGinty to step down from the investigation and appoint a special prosecutor.
“Since the senseless shooting of my son Tamir I have had many sleepless nights and days – almost a year, no justice, no peace. I am very disappointed in the way Timothy McGinty is handling this investigation. I would like for him to step down and allow an independent prosecutor to take over.”
— CNN (@CNN) October 16, 2015
Specifically, Ms. Rice, her family, and her legal team believe that the outside reports were biased and partial to the police and releasing them to the public taints the jury pool, once McGinty sends the case to a grand jury. Tamir’s cousin, Latonya Goldsby, accuses McGinty of obstructing justice, and Samria’s attorney, Jonathan Abady, has called the reports “worthless, unfounded conclusions based on nothing but speculation, ignoring the facts.”
“To us, it is otherworldly.”
McGinty, meanwhile, has indicated – repeatedly – that he has no intention of stepping down and will hand the case to a grand jury.
In a statement, the Cuyahoga Prosecutor’s Office indicated that it believes justice will be served, both through the release of the outside findings and, ultimately, the grand jury.
“By ending the culture of secrecy that formerly surrounded these cases and taking all deaths at the hands of police to the Grand Jury for review, we expect to improve community confidence and to significantly reduce the number of unnecessary deaths. There will be fewer mistakes and fewer deaths. Some parties may be displeased with evidence or reports as they are disclosed, but by making them public before conclusion, there is an opportunity to correct errors… The ultimate decision on reasonableness will be made by the citizens of this county through the Grand Jury.”
Whether or not justice will prevail once the case goes to the grand jury – at least as far as Tamir Rice supporters are concerned – is a matter of dispute. In an Opinion piece for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jawanza Karriem Colvin writes that the findings of the outside experts specifically, and McGinty’s handling of the Tamir Rice case generally, are not surprising to African Americans who are used to a lack of police accountability.
“McGinty, in this case and in others, has shown a pattern that suggests a reluctance to seek murder charges and convictions of police officers in the face of substantial evidence and even when the death came under the most egregious circumstances.”
As of this post, McGinty has not presented a timetable for when the Tamir Rice case will be handed over to a grand jury.
[Image courtesy of Getty Images/Angelo Merendino]