Ohio prosecutor criticized over reports on child's shooting by police

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New Reports Say Tamir Rice Shooting Was 'Reasonable'


An Ohio prosecutor handling the fatal shooting by police of a 12-year-old boy while he played with a replica pistol was criticized by activists on Sunday for releasing two reports that called the shooting "reasonable" before any grand jury decision on charges had been announced.

"It looks as though the prosecutor is trying to taint the grand jury process as well as manipulate the judicial process overall," said Edward Little, one of the so-called Cleveland 8, a group of clergy, academics and activists who have called for the two police officers involved in the November 2014 playground shooting of Tamir Rice to be indicted.

SEE ALSO: Reports: Officer's shooting of boy with pellet gun justified

The conclusions of a retired FBI agent and an out-of-state prosecutor were submitted to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office ahead of an expected decision by a grand jury on whether criminal charges were warranted in the shooting, which was captured on surveillance video.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement on Saturday that his office was not reaching any conclusions based on the two reports. The reports said Timothy Loehmann, the white officer who shot Rice, who was black, opened fire because he felt threatened.

The case is one in a series of high-profile police-related shooting deaths of African-Americans which have raised questions about the use of force by law enforcement.

See photos of protests that sparked after Rice's death:

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Tamir Rice, 12yo boy shot by Cleveland police
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Ohio prosecutor criticized over reports on child's shooting by police
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)
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)
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Little said the release of the reports to media late Saturday on a holiday weekend was "reminiscent" of prosecutors' handling of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri where details of the case were leaked to the media before a grand jury decision not to bring charges against the police officer involved.

"This community has lost all hope in this prosecutor to be fair and impartial," Little said.

Retired FBI agent Kimberly Crawford, in a review of the shooting, wrote that it was "apparent not only was Officer Loehmann required to make a split-second decision, but also that his response was a reasonable one."

In another report, Colorado prosecutor S. Lamar Sims also concluded that "Officer Loehmann's belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable, as was his response to that perceived threat."

Cleveland Officer Had 'No Choice' But to Shoot Tamir Rice

The Rice family's attorney, Subodh Chandra, accused prosecutors of failing to properly advocate for the victim and of "sandbagging" the grand jury proceedings by improperly releasing case documents.

"Our prosecutor is freelancing. The officers here are being given special treatment," he said in a phone interview.

Civil rights activists lit up social media on Sunday to criticize the handling of the case.

"It's Mike Brown all over again. The police are working their tactics to make sure the family don't get that day in court," said Tory Russell, with Hands Up United, a Ferguson-based social rights group.

"This is a very transparent attempt to undermine the ability to receive justice for Tamir Rice and his family," said Arisha Hatch, with the civil rights group Color of Change.

Rice was killed after Cleveland police received an emergency call about someone brandishing a gun outside a city recreation center. Officer Loehmann shot Rice twice in the abdomen, seconds after his partner, who also is white, drove their vehicle to within 5 feet (1.5 meters) of the boy in the playground. The gun turned out to be an replica pistol that shoots pellets, but had the orange tip removed.

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