The U.S. Department of Justice will not pursue charges against the two officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a Black child who was killed in an Ohio park back in 2014 while playing with a toy gun.
According to CNN, the federal prosecutors of both the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio and the Civil Rights Division decided not to charge Cleveland police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback for his death. They said that they could not prove that the officers obstructed justice or that Rice’s constitutional rights were violated.
“In order to establish a federal civil rights violation, the government would have to prove that Officer Loehmann’s actions were unreasonable under the circumstances, and that his actions were willful,” the federal attorneys said in a statement. “ … an officer is permitted to use deadly force where he reasonably believes that the suspect posed an imminent threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others.”
Prosecutors said that because Loehmann believed Rice had a gun, the Justice Department would have to prove “1) Tamir was not reaching for his gun; and 2) that Officer Loehmann did not perceive that Tamir was reaching for his gun, despite his consistent statements to the contrary.”
Prosecutors also reviewed video evidence of the shooting and spoke to multiple witnesses and experts. Video of the deadly incident, which happened in broad daylight, showed Loehmann arriving in a police car that was driven by Garmback. The car moved in close to Rice and in less than two seconds after the vehicle arrived, Loehmann shot the young boy. In 2016, the Rice family was awarded a $6 million wrongful death settlement from the City of Cleveland.
On Tuesday (Dec. 29), officials notified Rice’s family of their decision and they were sent a letter explaining their findings from the investigation.