White officer won't face charges in killing of Cleveland boy

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Grand Jury Declines To Bring Charges Against Cops In Tamir Rice Shooting


CLEVELAND (AP) -- A grand jury declined to indict a white rookie police officer in the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a black youngster who was shot to death while playing with what turned out to be a pellet gun, a prosecutor said Monday.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said it was "indisputable" that the boy was drawing the pistol from his waistband when he was gunned down - either to hand it over to police or to show them that it wasn't real. But McGinty said there was no way for the officers on the scene to know that.

SEE ALSO: Families demand Chicago police, mayor explain shooting deaths

"Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police," McGinty said. He said patrolman Timothy Loehmann was justified in opening fire: "He had reason to fear for his life."

Tamir was shot by Loehmann within two seconds of the officer's police cruiser skidding to a stop near the boy outside a city recreation center in November 2014. Loehmann and his training partner, Frank Garmback, were responding to a 911 call about a man waving a gun.

Tamir was carrying a borrowed airsoft gun that looked like a real gun but shot nonlethal plastic pellets. It was missing its telltale orange tip.

Learn more about the Tamir Rice case:
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Tamir Rice, 12yo boy shot by Cleveland police
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White officer won't face charges in killing of Cleveland boy
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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A grainy video of the shooting captured by a surveillance camera provoked outrage nationally, and together with other killings of black people by police in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, it helped fuel the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a statement, Tamir's family said it was "saddened and disappointed by this outcome - but not surprised." It accused McGinty of "abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment." The family renewed its request for the U.S. Justice Department to step in and conduct "a real investigation."

But echoing the prosecutor, the family urged anyone disappointed in the grand jury decision to express that "peacefully and democratically."

The grand jury had been hearing evidence and testimony since mid-October.

Read reactions to the decision:

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Tamir Rice social reactions
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White officer won't face charges in killing of Cleveland boy
#TamirRice was a child. He deserved better from the world. And now he deserves justice.
Praying for the family of #TamirRice 12 years old shot within 2 seconds by Cleveland police while… https://t.co/zxKVklrZs3
#TamirRice Toy gun. 2 seconds. "There's something happening here. What it is - ain't exactly clear" RIP Tamir.
Cops can fatally shoot 12 year olds with pellet guns and avoid indictment. #brokensystem #TamirRice
Many youth feel the USA govt is treating Black Lives Matter like the ISIS hype.The Gestapolike atmosphere is co-signing that vibe #TamirRice
Tim McGinty served the blue wall of silence well. What's justice denied for #TamirRice worth? Apparently not much. #JusticeLoses
Sat there and watched them criminalize Tamir and justify their own crime. Wasted my time. We already know how they feel. Protect yourself
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In explaining the decision not to bring charges, McGinty said police radio personnel contributed to the tragedy by failing to pass along the "all-important fact" that the 911 caller said the gunman was probably a juvenile and the gun probably wasn't real.

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Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Meyer said it was "extremely difficult" to tell the difference between the fake gun and a real one, since the orange tip had been removed. And he said Tamir was big for his age - 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, with a men's XL jacket and size-36 pants - and could have easily passed for someone much older.

Before police arrived, the youngster was seen repeatedly drawing the gun from his waistband and pointing it at other children, Meyer said.

"There have been lessons learned already. It should never happen again, and the city has taken steps so it doesn't," McGinty said.

Among other things, the Cleveland police department is putting dashboard cameras in every car and equipping officers with bodycams.

Also, the Cleveland police department reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department earlier this year to overhaul its use of force. The settlement was prompted in large part by a car chase that ended with the killing of a couple in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire.

McGinty said it was a "tough conversation" with Tamir's mother when she was told there would be no charges. "She was broken up, and it was very hard," the prosecutor said.

Tamir's family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the two officers and the city.

An investigation found that Tamir was shot at distance of between 4½ and 7 feet and that Loehmann fired twice, with one shot missing the boy. Both officers insisted that they shouted at Tamir repeatedly to show his hands before Loehmann opened fire.

"With his hands pulling the gun out and his elbow coming up, I knew it was a gun and it was coming out. I saw the weapon in his hands coming out of his waistband and the threat to my partner and myself was real and active," Loehmann told investigators.

After the boy's killing, it was learned that Loehmann had washed out from the police force in the Cleveland suburb of Independence. Loehmann had "dismal" handgun performance, broke down in tears at the gun range and was emotionally immature, according to files. He quit the force before he could be fired.

Two Cleveland police officers have been disciplined for failing to check Loehmann's personnel file before he was hired in Cleveland last year.

After Monday's announcement, Tamir's family charged that McGinty improperly hired use of-force experts to tell the grand jury that Loehmann's actions were reasonable. The family also said that the prosecutor allowed the officers to read prepared statements to the grand jury without being subjected to cross-examination.

McGinty urged those who disagree with the grand jury decision to react peacefully, and said: "It is time for the community and all of us to start to heal."

State Sen. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat, called the decision a "grave miscarriage of justice" but pleaded with the community to remain focused on positive change and "avoid falling into the traps that have hampered progress and the broader movement of social equality."


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