Advocates for Rice, Loehmann React to Judge's Finding of Probable Cause for Criminal Charges
Cleveland Judge Ronald Adrine issued an advisory review Thursday that found probable cause to charge city police officer Timothy Loehmann with murder and other crimes in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. He also found probable cause for lesser charges, including negligent homicide, for Loehmann’s partner, Frank Garmback, who drove a Cleveland police car within feet of Rice during the November 2014 incident.
Rachelle Smith is one of eight community activists who used an unusual legal maneuver earlier this week to ask for the judge’s ruling.
"It validates a lot of the feelings that the community, the public has had that have been contested by the city and Cleveland police. And I think that’s important for the public," she said.
The legal filings were based on a 1960 law that lets private citizens with evidence of potential crimes to go directly to a judge seeking arrests.
But Henry Hilow, Loehmann’s attorney, said the evidence the activists presented was entirely from surveillance video of the incident at Cudell Recreation Center.
"There’s not one affidavit with anybody that was at Cudell on the day that this happened in November – not one person," he said.
The activists had hoped for arrest warrants, which Adrine declined to issue, saying he lacked legal authority. He found that both city and county prosecutors had legal grounding to file charges. The city is deferring to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty, who says he’ll refer the cases to a grand jury.
Legal experts say Judge Adrine’s ruling doesn’t force any kind of change in the legal proceedings against the officers. But they say by putting a judge on record evaluating primary evidence in the Rice case, it may bolster public attention and increase pressure on the county prosecutor's office to act swiftly.
The activists said they asked for Judge Adrine’s ruling out of frustration at the slow pace of official proceedings looking into the controversial shooting.