New Report Finds Shooting of Tamir Rice 'Objectively Reasonable'

A police officer fatally shot Tamir Rice in the park outside Cudell recreation center in Cleveland.
A police officer fatally shot Tamir Rice in the park outside Cudell recreation center in Cleveland. (Nick Castele / ideastream)

by Nick Castele

A new report released by prosecutors concludes Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann’s actions were “objectively reasonable” when he fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice. This is the third report that prosecutors have made public reaching the same conclusion.

“We are not reaching any conclusions from these or other isolated bits of evidence,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a written statement. “Individually they are simply pieces of a complex puzzle. The gathering of evidence continues and the Grand Jury will evaluate it all.”

McGinty released the report the same day a group of Northeast Ohio religious leaders called for him to step aside from the case and appoint a special prosecutor. Attorneys for the Rice family have also demanded that McGinty recuse himself from the case, calling the prosecutor's investigation a “whitewash” and saying he chose experts favorable to law enforcement. 

Cuyahoga County prosecutors requested the report from W. Ken Katsaris, a law enforcement consultant and former sheriff from Florida who served as a state’s witness during the manslaughter trial of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo.

“It is simply obvious that the officers had a reasonable belief that Rice was armed,” Katsaris wrote in his opinion for prosecutors. He later added, “Rice’s actions provided no other alternative to Officer Loehmann than to apply deadly force.”

Subodh Chandra, an attorney for the Rice family, wrote in an emailed statement that the family had lost confidence in the process under McGinty. 

“The report assumes non-existent facts—like what the officers were thinking when the officers have never testified,” he wrote, “and it ignores other critical facts—including the fact the officers rushed up to Tamir and fired immediately, the fact that Ohio is an open-carry state, and that the officers left a 12-year-old boy bleeding and dying on the ground without administering first aid.” 

Officers responded after a 9-1-1 caller reported seeing Tamir playing with an air gun at a west side park. Although the caller said he was unsure if the gun was real, that information was not relayed to police.

Police drove onto the grass within feet of Tamir, and Loehmann fired within two seconds of emerging from the passenger side of the vehicle.

“Video surveillance shows Rice pulling up his outer garment with both hands near the right side of his waist” just before Loehmann fired, an investigation by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office found earlier this year.

“According to witness interviews, it is unclear whether Loehmann shouted verbal commands” to Tamir as the police cruiser approached, the investigation also found.

Investigators also found it was nearly four minutes before an FBI agent arrived to deliver first aid. 

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