US police cleared in shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice (File)
Tamir Rice (File)

Two police officers in Cleveland, Ohio, have been cleared by a grand jury after the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old last year.

Tamir Rice was shot by police last November within seconds of the officers arriving at a public park. The officers had received reports of a suspect with a gun at the location. The boy, who had been playing with a toy gun, died in hospital the next day.

Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty blamed a lack of communication as a significant contributor to the death but found no evidence of criminal conduct by police.

An observer at the park called 911 after seeing Tamir walking around carrying the toy, occasionally raising and pointing it.

In the call the operator was told the suspect was probably a juvenile and the gun probably a fake, information which was not passed on to the responding officers.

"Had the officers been aware of these qualifiers, the training officer who was driving might have approached the scene with less urgency; lives may not have been put at stake," Mr McGinty said.

He said he did not recommend the grand jury bring charges against the officers.

In statements presented to the court, both officers said upon arrival at the park they yelled at the boy – who they estimated was 18 years old – to show them his hands. Security footage from a nearby building shows within two seconds of their arrival, Tamir was shot.

Neither officer Timothy Loehmann, 26, who shot the boy, nor his partner Frank Garmback, 46, who was driving the patrol car, will face charges over the death.

Tamir's family have accused Mr McGinty of manipulating the grand jury to vote against the indictment.

"After this investigation – which took over a year to unfold – and Prosecutor McGinty's mishandling of this case, we no longer trust the local criminal justice system, which we view as corrupt," a statement from Tamir's mother read, according to the Washington Post.

In the statement, Samaria Rice said she wanted someone to be held accountable for the "murder of our beloved Tamir".

"As the video shows, Officer Loehmann shot my son in less than a second. All I wanted was for someone to be held accountable. But this entire process was a charade."

Mr McGinty said the death was a "tragedy" but not a crime.

The shooting of Tamir has sparked protests across the state and it's believed there will be more protests at Cudell Park, the site of the shooting, on Monday evening (local time).

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