Group seeks charges against Cleveland cops in boy's shooting

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Citizens Call for Arrests in Death of Tamir Rice
CLEVELAND (AP) — A group of activists, clergy and attorneys went to court Tuesday to try to get two white police officers charged in the fatal shooting of a black 12-year-old boy holding a pellet gun, but a legal expert and even the attorneys pushing for the action say that the case must go through a grand jury to obtain a felony indictment against the officers.

The group filed affidavits in Cleveland Municipal Court asking that a judge rule there is probable cause to charge and arrest the officers in the Nov. 22 death of Tamir Rice outside a recreation center. Tamir was shot within two seconds of a police cruiser skidding to a stop near him.

The filing is based on an obscure section of Ohio law that allows private citizens who are aware of criminal activity to seek charges in court. A Cleveland law school professor said Tuesday that the group's effort does not "substitute for the grand jury."

Lewis Katz of the Case Western Reserve University Law School said that while he understands the frustration and impatience of Tamir's family and others, the court filing is more about making headlines than the pursuit of justice. Charging the officers, he said, would be more symbolic than substantive.

"It would not be a meaningful victory," Katz said.

Group members held a news conference in front of the Cuyahoga County Justice Center that focused on what they perceive as delays in prosecuting Tamir's case and long-existing problems of blacks and minorities receiving unequal, abusive and sometimes deadly treatment from police, and how officers largely go unpunished when they kill or maim someone. Several speakers questioned whether rookie patrolman Timothy Loehmann would have shot Tamir had he been white.

"We're saying there's enough probable cause to charge them with a crime that we've identified," Cleveland civil rights attorney and NAACP official Michael Nelson said earlier Tuesday. Charges against Loehmann, his training officer and the driver of the cruiser, patrolman Frank Garmback, could range from aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, to negligent homicide, a first-degree misdemeanor, Nelson said.

The group's court filing comes less than three weeks after a judge in Cleveland acquitted a white patrolman charged with voluntary manslaughter in the 2012 deaths of two black suspects after a high-speed chase. The prosecution of Michael Brelo in that case is a credit to Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty, who was willing to take a use-of-force case against a police officer to trial, Katz said.

The city asked the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department to investigate Tamir's shooting in January. The sheriff last week said his office had completed the investigation and had given county prosecutors the case.

A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office said Tuesday that said the investigation isn't finished and that evidence and expert analysis will be presented to a grand jury when the probe is completed.

The head of Cleveland's largest police union issued an incendiary statement on Tuesday about the group's effort to have the officers charged and arrested.

"It is very sad how miserable the lives of these self-appointed activists, civil rights leaders and clergy must be," wrote Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, adding: "Civilized society cannot permit the rule of law to be subverted by mob rule."

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Tamir Rice, 12yo boy shot by Cleveland police
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Group seeks charges against Cleveland cops in boy's shooting
This undated photo provided by the family's attorney shows Tamir Rice. Rice, 12, was fatally shot by police in Cleveland after brandishing what turned out to be a replica gun, triggering an investigation into his death and a legislator's call for such weapons to be brightly colored or bear special markings. (AP Photo/Courtesy Richardson & Kucharski Co., L.P.A.)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/11/22: Kids with Tamir Rice signs. Stop Mass Incarcerations Network sponsored a children's march demanding accountability on the one year anniversary of Tamir Rice's death at the hands of the Cleveland police. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/11/22: Stop Mass Incarceration Network co-founder Carl Dix with sign. Stop Mass Incarcerations Network sponsored a children's march demanding accountability on the one year anniversary of Tamir Rice's death at the hands of the Cleveland police. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
FILE - This is a Nov. 28, 2015 file photo of a combination of still images taken from a surveillance video and released Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, that shows Cleveland police officers arriving at Cudell Park on a report of a man with a gun. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by Cleveland police, Nov. 22, 2014, after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. A decision on whether to charge two white officers in the death of Tamir Rice, one of the higher-profile cases of black deaths at the hands of officers that have roiled cities nationwide, could come any day. The grand jury making the decision has been meeting since mid-October. (Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office via AP, File)
This still image taken from a surveillance video played at a news conference held by Cleveland Police, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, shows Cleveland police officers arriving at Cudell Park on a report of a man with a gun. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
This fake handgun taken from 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot by Cleveland police over the weekend, is displayed after a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. The 12-year-old was shot at a city park after he reportedly pulled the Colt 1911 replica on arriving officers. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: People march in protest to the Cuddell Recreation Center where Tamir Rice was killed, in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: People march in protest to the Cuddell Recreation Center where Tamir Rice was killed, in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: People march in protest to the Cuddell Recreation Center where Tamir Rice was killed, in reaction to Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo being acquitted of manslaughter charges after he shot two people at the end of a 2012 car chase in which officers fired 137 shots May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. After leading police on a 20-mile chase, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were shot dead after Officer Brelo jumped onto the hood of the car and unleashing a fatal barrage of gunfire. on May 23, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images)
Samaria Rice, center, the mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer, watches the video of Tamir's shooting during a news-conference Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Cleveland. Attorney Benjamin Crump, left, and attorneys Walter Madison, right, watch. Rice and her attorneys talked about the city's response to the lawsuit, a day after Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson apologized for wording in a court document in which the city said the boy died as a result of his own actions. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
FILE - In this March 3, 2015 file photo, Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer, talks about the family's lawsuit against the city in Cleveland. âI have not yet received an apology from the police department or the city of Cleveland in regards to the killing of my son,â she said. âAnd it hurts.â (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 20: Cory Webb, 24, raises a sign on the corner of E. Roadway as demonstrators protest police violence December 20, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 20: An unidentified woman raises a sign to protest police violence December 20, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors from Ferguson travelled to Cleveland to rally against the shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 21: Demonstrators march on Euclid Ave. in the Playhouse Square district December 21, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors gathered to voice opposition to the shooting death of 12-year old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 21: Demonstrators march on E. 9th Street December 21, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. For the second straight day protestors gathered in downtown Cleveland to voice opposition to excessive use of police force. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 13: Rev. Al Sharpton (C) leads the 'Justice For All' march in the nation's capital with the families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo and other unarmed black men who were killed by police, December 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. Organized Sharpton's National Action Network, this march and other like it across the country aim to tell Congress and the country that demonstrators will not stand down until there is systemic change, accountability and justice in cases of police misconduct. Sharpton said the demonstration is happening in Washington 'because all over the country we all need to come together and demand this Congress deal with the issues, that we need laws to protect the citizens in these states from these state grand jurors.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Samaria Rice, center, speaks about the investigation into the death of her son Tamir Rice, at a news conference with attorneys Walter Madison, left, and Benjamin Crump in Cleveland, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015. A Cleveland police officer fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, 2014, as he played with a toy gun outside a recreation center. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Samaria Rice, of Cleveland, Ohio, touches her hand to her face during an interview at The Associated Press, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014 in New York. A Cleveland police officer fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice on Nov. 22 as he played with a toy gun outside a recreation center. Rice says her son was never given a chance to follow officers' orders, but she believes the family "will have justice." (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer, speaks during a news conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Cleveland. Surveillance video released by police shows Tamir Rice being shot within 2 seconds of a patrol car stopping within a few feet of him at a park on Nov. 22. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Attorney Benjamin Crump, left, answers questions during a news conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Cleveland. Samaria Rice, second from right, the mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer, listens. Rice says she wants the police officer convicted for killing her son, who was carrying a pellet gun that police say looked real. Tamir Rice was confronted Nov. 22 when officers responded to a 911 call about someone with a gun near a playground. Surveillance video shows him being shot within 2 seconds of a patrol car stopping nearby. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer, speaks during a news conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Cleveland. Rice says she wants the police officer convicted for killing her son, who was carrying a pellet gun that police say looked real. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Samaria Rice, center, the mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer, speaks during a news conference Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Cleveland. Rice says she wants the police officer convicted for killing her son, who was carrying a pellet gun that police say looked real. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
FILE - This file photo from Dec. 8, 2014, shows Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer, as she speaks during a news conference in Cleveland. Leonard Warner, right, Tamir's father, listens. A decision on whether to charge two white officers in the death of Tamir Rice, one of the higher-profile cases of black deaths at the hands of officers that have roiled cities nationwide, could come any day. The grand jury making the decision has been meeting since mid-October. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
CORRECTS THE ID OF THE MALE ON POSTER TO TAMIR RICE - Tomiko Shine holds up a picture of Tamir Rice, the 12 year old boy fatally shot on Nov. 22 by a rookie police officer, during a protest in response to a grand jury's decision in Ferguson, Mo. to not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, at the Department of Justice in Washington, Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. Protesters across the U.S. have walked off their jobs or away from classes in support of the Ferguson protesters. Rice's death has also sparked community demonstrations against police shootings. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Cleveland police deputy chief Ed Tomba answers questions at a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, after the release of the surveillance video of the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a fake gun at the city park. Listening are Chief Calvin Williams, left, and Mayor Frank Johnson, second from left. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba, second from right, shows surveillance video of the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice during a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, in Cleveland. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a fake gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba, right, shows surveillance video of the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice during a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, in Cleveland. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a fake gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Demonstrators lay down in Public Square Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Cleveland, during a protest over the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Protesters block cars on the freeway Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, during a protest over the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Demonstrators block the Memorial Shoreway in Cleveland, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, during a protest over the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Demonstrators surround a car on Memorial Shoreway in Cleveland. Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in a protest over the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. The protestors blocked both lanes of the highway for about an hour during the evening rush. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Demonstrators block Public Square Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Cleveland, during a protest over the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Protesters block cars on the freeway Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014 during a protest over the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
File - In this Nov. 25, 2014 file photo, police arrest a demonstrator protesting against the shooting of 12-year-old boy Tamir Rice, who was fatally shot by a police officer in Cleveland. The revelation that Cleveland police officials didn't review the checkered history of a police officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy highlights what some describe as an unnerving truth about policing -- there's no universal standard for how deeply a department should dig into its recruits' pasts. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, file)
Police arrest a demonstrator during a protest over the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice at Public Square in Cleveland Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Demonstrators gather to protest the shooting of Tamir Rice at Cudell Park in Cleveland, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Demonstrators block Public Square in Cleveland Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in a protest over the weekend police shooting of Tamir Rice. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Angeli Delcerro places a large stuffed toy at the makeshift memorial for Tamir Rice at Cudell Park in Cleveland, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
Demonstrators march to protest the shooting of Tamir Rice at Cudell Park in Cleveland, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. The 12-year-old was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday after he reportedly pulled a fake gun at the city park. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
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