Group seeks charges against Cleveland cops in boy's shooting

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, 12-year-old boy shot by Cleveland police
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Group seeks charges against Cleveland cops in boy's shooting
Jun 9, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Tadar Muhammad (right) and Jeremy Brustein (left) demonstrate in support of Tamir Rice outside of Quicken Loans Arena prior to game three of the NBA Finals. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
A police officer (L) is seen pointing his weapon during an incident involving the shooting of a 12-year-old boy with a pellet gun at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio, in this still image from video released by the Cleveland Police Department November 26, 2014. Tamir E. Rice was shot by a patrol officer on Saturday after a 911 call reported someone pointing a gun at people at the Cudell Recreation Center. REUTERS/Cleveland Police Department/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
A boy holds a sign in support as Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year old boy who was fatally shot by police last month while carrying what turned out to be a replica toy gun, speaks during a news conference at the Olivet Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio December 8, 2014. The mother of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy fatally shot by police last month broke her silence on Monday, saying the officers involved should be criminally convicted. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST)
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)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 13: (L-R) Kadiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo; Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin; Samaira Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice; Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown Jr; Esaw Garner, the widow of Eric Garner; and Rev. Al Sharpton address the 'Justice For All' march and rally in the nation's capital December 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. Organized by Sharpton's National Action Network, this march and others 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)
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)
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)
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)
A mourner looks at a program during the funeral service for Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio December 3, 2014. Rice had an Airsoft-type replica gun that resembles a semiautomatic pistol and was fatally shot by a patrol officer after a 911 call reported someone pointing a gun at people at the Cudell Recreation Center. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW OBITUARY)
Steve Dore screams in protest of the Cleveland Police while pointing to a tattoo on his head memorializing Tamir Rice near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Samaria Rice (C) leaves the funeral services of her son Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio December 3, 2014. Rice had an Airsoft-type replica gun that resembles a semiautomatic pistol and was fatally shot by a patrol officer after a 911 call reported someone pointing a gun at people at the Cudell Recreation Center. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW OBITUARY)
Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year old boy who was fatally shot by police last month while carrying what turned out to be a replica toy gun, speaks during a news conference at the Olivet Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio December 8, 2014. The mother of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy fatally shot by police last month broke her silence on Monday, saying the officers involved should be criminally convicted. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST)
Tamir E. Rice, 12, is seen allegedly pointing a pellet gun at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio, in this still image from video released by the Cleveland Police Department November 26, 2014. Rice was shot by a patrol officer on Saturday after a 911 call reported someone pointing a gun at people. REUTERS/Cleveland Police Department/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
People hold a banner as they take part in a protest against the police in Washington Square in Manhattan, New York, December 28, 2015 after a grand jury cleared two Cleveland police officers on Monday in the November 2014 fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Rice was brandishing a toy gun in a park, and a prosecutor said there were a series of mistakes but no criminal activity. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 29: Members of the Cleveland Police Department form a roadblock on E. 9th St. on December 29, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors took to the street the day after a grand jury declined to indict Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann for the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 29: Katy Kostenko (Holding sign), a 19-year old resident of Cleveland, marches with other activists on St Clair Ave. on December 29, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Protestors took to the street the day after a grand jury declined to indict Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann for the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
Demarcus Scott, one of the leaders for the activist group CBUS which is also a part of the Black Lives Matter movement is seen giving an interview in the Attorney Generals office in Columbus, Ohio December, 30, 2015. A list of demands was read to Stephen Schumaker the Deputy Attorney General for Law Enforcement one of which was for Attorney General Mike DeWine to give a statement that the killing of Tamir Rice was unjust after a local Grand Jury decided not to press criminal charges against the patrolman who shot and killed the young boy in November, 2014. The Attorney General would not give the statement over the phone, and agreed to meet with the activist group at a later date. (Photo by Seth Herald/NurPhoto) (Photo by NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 26: An unidentified woman protests the death of 12-year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 26. Rice was shot by a Cleveland Police Officer responding to a 911 call about a child waving a gun, discovered to be a toy after the shooting, outside the Cudell Recreation Center on Cleveland's near west side. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Corbis via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 25: Mourners covered a park table at the Cudell Commons Park with stuffed animals, prayer candles, and letters for 12-year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, November 25, 2014. Rice died the previous weekend after being shot by a Cleveland police officer responding to a 911 call about a 'male threatening people with a gun.' (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Corbis via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 25: Mourners covered a park table at the Cudell Commons Park with stuffed animals, prayer candles, and letters for 12-year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, November 25, 2014. Rice died the previous weekend after being shot by a Cleveland police officer responding to a 911 call about a 'male threatening people with a gun.' (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Corbis via Getty Images)
A man displays a sign during a rally at Cudell Commons Park in Cleveland, Ohio, November 24, 2014 where Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy was shot by police on November 23. Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams on Monday defended the conduct of the officer who fatally shot the 12-year-old who was wielding a replica handgun. Tamir Rice died in hospital early Sunday after two police officers, responding to a 911 emergency call, confronted the African-American youngster at a recreation center. The incident came as Americans awaited a grand jury's decision on whether to indict a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in the St. Louis, Missouri suburb of Ferguson for the fatal shooting in August of black teenager Michael Brown. AFP PHOTO JORDAN GONZALEZ (Photo credit should read JORDAN GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 25: Mourners covered a park table at the Cudell Commons Park with stuffed animals, prayer candles, and letters for 12-year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, November 25, 2014. Rice died the previous weekend after being shot by a Cleveland police officer responding to a 911 call about a 'male threatening people with a gun.' (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Corbis via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Protesters gather outside of City Hall to protest the death of 12-year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 26. Rice was shot by a Cleveland Police Officer responding to a 911 call about a child waving a gun, discovered to be a toy after the shooting, outside the Cudell Recreation Center on Cleveland's near west side. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Corbis via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/11/22: Justice for Tamir sign held aloft. 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)
A mourner reads the obituary from the program during the funeral service for Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio December 3, 2014. Rice had an Airsoft-type replica gun that resembles a semiautomatic pistol and was fatally shot by a patrol officer after a 911 call reported someone pointing a gun at people at the Cudell Recreation Center. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW OBITUARY)
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