Ohio judge recommends police officers face charges in Tamir Rice case – Reuters


CLEVELAND A Cleveland judge on Thursday found probable cause that a police officer who shot to death a 12-year-old boy last year should face a murder charge in an opinion that puts pressure on prosecutors.

Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine said Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Tamir Rice, should face charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. Loehmann’s partner, Frank Garmback, should face negligent homicide and dereliction of duty charges, he found.

Adrine‚Äôs opinion does not compel charges or require the officers’ arrest. “This court is mindful that despite any conclusions it draws from the evidence … its role here is advisory in nature,” he wrote.

Rice’s death is one of several recent cases that raised questions about police use of force in the United States, particularly against minorities. The two Cleveland officers involved in the shooting are white, and Rice was black.

The ruling came days after a group of community leaders filed affidavits requesting action from the court in the death of Rice, who was holding a replica gun when he was shot.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement on Thursday the case will go to a grand jury, as is the policy for all police lethal force incidents.

“Ultimately, the Grand Jury decides whether police officers are charged or not charged,” McGinty said.

In a statement regarding Adrine’s opinion, Rice’s family said: “We are grateful that the wheels of justice are starting to turn.”

Adrine was responding to a 131-page complaint filed under an obscure 1960 law that allows citizens to seek an arrest and criminal charges through the courts, bypassing prosecutors.

Those who presented the citizens’ affidavits said they have grown frustrated and distrustful of authorities handling the case.

Rice was shot outside a recreation center on Nov. 22 while playing with a Airsoft-type replica handgun.

Loehmann fired at Rice twice within two seconds of arriving at the scene with Garmback in response to a 911 emergency call about a man with a gun outside the recreation center, according to authorities. The sixth-grader died the next day.

The county sheriff’s department completed its investigation of the shooting last week, without revealing any conclusions.

Cleveland’s police department agreed last month on a plan to minimize racial bias and the use of excessive force after the U.S. Justice Department found a pattern of abuses against civilians by police.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Writing by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Sandra Maler and Eric Beech)

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