Tamir Rice's family asks Justice Department to reopen investigation into 12-year-old's death

Friday - 16/04/2021 14:01
Tamir Rice's family asks Justice Department to reopen investigation into 12-year-old's death

WASHINGTON – The family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice is asking the Justice Department to reopen its investigation into the boy's 2014 shooting and to convene a grand jury that would consider charges against the Cleveland police officers involved in his death. 

Drawing from President Joe Biden's promise to reinvigorate investigations of police actions and Attorney General Merrick Garland's pledge to prioritize civil rights, Rice's family is asking the Justice Department to revisit evidence that the previous administration deemed insufficient to warrant prosecution. fdg

"The election of President Biden, your appointment, and your commitment to the rule of law, racial justice, and police reform give Tamir's family hope that the chance for accountability is not lost forever," according to a letter the Rice family's lawyers sent to Garland Friday.
 

Tomiko Shine holds up a picture of Tamir Rice during a protest in Washington, D.C. Rice was fatally shot by a rookie police officer in Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2014. The 12-year-old was holding a toy gun while playing in the park when he was shot and killed.
Tomiko Shine holds up a picture of Tamir Rice
during a protest in Washington, D.C.
Rice was fatally shot by a
rookie police officer in
Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2014.
The 12-year-old was holding
a toy gun while playing in the
park when he was shot and killed.

Rice's death at the hands of police helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement and was, for years, part of the national conversation on use of force against people of color. The deaths of Black citizens during police encounters have continued to ignite nationwide protests and calls for reform. The renewed plea from Rice's family comes as the country watches the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, while in Chicago, police body camera footage released Thursday appears to show 13-year-old Adam Toledo with his hands up when he was shot. 

"Tamir would have been 19 years old in June," his mother, Samaria Rice, said in a statement. "I'm still in so much pain because no one has been held accountable for the criminal act that took his life."

‘You don’t get over nothing like this’:Mother of Tamir Rice says moving on has been painful

A spokeswoman said the Justice Department did not have a comment. 

The department under former President Donald Trump and former Attorney General William Barr declined to pursue criminal charges in Rice's death, saying there was not enough evidence to prove that Cleveland police officers used excessive force against the boy.

"The evidence in this case fails to definitively establish what happened at the time of the shooting," according to a lengthy statement from the Justice Department late last year, adding that a key evidence – a video of the shooting – was too grainy to clearly show what had happened. 

Officer Timothy Loehmann, who is white, shot and killed Rice on Nov. 22, 2014. Police had received a call about a "guy with a pistol" who was pointing the weapon outside a recreation center in Cleveland. The 12-year-old had spent the day outside the center playing with a pellet gun. Officers did not know that the gun might be a toy or that Rice might be a juvenile, police said.

Surveillance footage shows Rice sitting at a picnic table under a gazebo just before he was shot. The boy later stood up and walked around the table as the police car stopped in front of him. Within seconds, Loehmann got out of the car as it was moving and fired two shots, striking Rice in the abdomen.
 

Samaria Rice’s 12-year-old son Tamir Rice was killed by a Cleveland police officer in 2014.
Samaria Rice’s 12-year-old son Tamir Rice was killed by a Cleveland police officer in 2014.
Phil Masturzo, Akron Beacon Journal Via USA TODAY Network


Loehmann and another officer, Frank Garmback, both said that they saw Rice reach for his gun and that he was told repeatedly to show his hands. The video, which does not have an audio, does not show Rice's hands, and it's not clear from the footage when the boy first saw the officers. 

The family's attorneys dispute the officers' account, saying the video clearly shows Loehmann immediately opened fire at Rice.

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 Keywords: black lives matter

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