What Happened In the Grand Jury Vote in Rice Case?
By Elizabeth Miller
An investigative story in Cleveland Scene magazine on Wednesday challenged whether a grand jury voted not to bring charges against two police officers in the Tamir Rice case. The revelation raised questions among news outlets and on social media.
Normally, when a grand jury decides not to indict a defendant in a case, they return a no-bill to the judge. A group of reporters from Scene went looking for that no-bill, but no one – not the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office or the court, could produce the document.
That led the Scene reporters to speculate that since there was no document, there was no proof the grand jury had actually voted on charges for the two policemen.
Wednesday evening, the Prosecutor’s office found and released a copy of a one sentence statement signed by the grand jury foreman. It said the jury did in fact come to a decision not to indict the officers.
The curve ball was this: the grand jury in the Rice case was not asked whether to indict the officers, but rather if their actions were justifiable. Once the grand jury decided yes, there was no need to vote on indictments, according to a statement from the prosecutor. So a no-bill doesn’t exist in this case. Instead, the Prosecutor’s Office says the grand jury’s statement serves as an official end to the investigation.