Outrage and Heartbreak Over Non-Indictment of Police Who Shot Tamir Rice
The video footage of 12-year-old Tamir Rice being gunned down by a police officer in Cleveland last November shocked the nation, reignited the Black Lives Matter movement, and sparked renewed calls for law enforcement reform. But on Monday, a grand jury declined to indict Timothy Loehmann, the rookie who pulled the trigger and shot Rice, or his partner, Frank Garmback.
Now, in the aftermath of the decision, people are taking to social media to express their outrage and heartbreak, and protesters are mobilizing in Cleveland and several other cities across the nation.
Rice was playing with a toy pellet gun at Cudell Recreation Center on Nov. 22, 2014, when a caller to 911 reported that someone—“probably a juvenile”—was playing with a “probably fake” gun at the center. The 911 dispatcher, who has since resigned, failed to relay those details to Loehmann and Garmback.
The non-indictment of the two officers was supported by Timothy J. McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor. “Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunication by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police,” said McGinty at a press conference.
“If we put ourselves in the victim’s shoes, as prosecutors and detectives try to do, it is likely that Tamir—whose size made him look much older and who had been warned that his pellet gun might get him into trouble that day—either intended to hand it to the officers or to show them it wasn’t a real gun. But there was no way for the officers to know that because they saw the events rapidly unfolding in front of them from a very different perspective,” continued McGinty.
A tweet from Adam Khan, an executive at cosmetics giant L’Oréal, summed up the sentiments of many. Khan posted an image of a baby-faced Tamir and pointed out that Ohio is an open-carry state and that Loehmann fired his weapon within seconds of arriving on the scene.
Alfred Edmond Jr., the executive editor–at–large of Black Enterprise magazine, tweeted the frustration and fear of many black parents who feel as if they can’t protect their children from police. “This #TamirRice thing is hitting me HARD. My son was both bigger and taller than Tamir at 12. Kids have played w/toy guns since forever. #WTF,” wrote Edmond Jr.
Organizers also took to the social media platform to share details of rallies across the nation, and protesters began mobilizing in Cleveland.
Rice’s family, which has criticized McGinty’s handling of the case, released a statement after the decision decrying the prosecutor’s behavior. “It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment,” the family said in the statement. “Even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second, Prosecutor McGinty hired so-called expert witnesses to try to exonerate the officers and tell the grand jury their conduct was reasonable and justified.”
On Monday the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice said in a statement that it would “continue our independent review of the matter."