Police Officer Was Acting “Reasonably” When He Shot 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice

Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images.
Almost a year after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by Cleveland police who believed he was pointing a gun at them, two separate investigations have concluded that the officer who shot him was acting reasonably. The New York Times reports that Colorado prosecutor S. Lamar Sims and former F.B.I. agent Kimberly A. Crawford were commissioned by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty's office to conduct separate inquiries. The prosecutor will later present evidence to the Grand Jury to decide whether to charge Officer Tim Loehmann for shooting the boy, who was holding a toy pellet gun. "There can be no doubt that Rice's death was tragic, and indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking," Sims wrote in his report, made available online by the prosecutor's office. "Officer Loehmann's belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable, as was his response to that perceived threat." Crawford's report states that Rice's age could not have been relevant to Loehmann if he was focused on the gun. "Even if Officer Loehmann was aware of Rice’s age, it would not have made his use of force unreasonable. A 12-year-old with a gun, unquestionably old enough to pull a trigger, poses a threat equal to that of a full-grown adult in a similar situation." McGinty will add these reports to other evidence in the case, including surveillance footage of the shooting outside a rec center, and the 911 call in which the caller notes that a person, "probably a juvenile," has been waving a gun around and scaring people, but that the gun is "probably fake." In March, the City of Cleveland filed court papers stating that Rice was responsible for his own death. Lawyers for the Rice family posted a statement on Facebook Saturday, saying, "The family now believes that the prosecutor's office has been on an 11-month quest to avoid providing that accountability. Any presentation to a Grand Jury — without the prosecutor advocating for Tamir — is a charade. To get so-called experts to assist in the whitewash — when the world has the video of what happened — is all-the-more alarming." The prosecutor's office has not said when the case will be presented before the Grand Jury.

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