A white police officer in Cleveland, USA, was justified in fatally shooting a black 12-year-old boy holding a pellet gun, moments after pulling up beside him, according to two outside reviews conducted at the request of the prosecutor investigating the death.
A retired FBI agent and a Denver prosecutor both found the rookie patrolman who shot Tamir Rice exercised a reasonable use of force because he had reason to perceive the boy — described in a call to emergency services as a man waving and pointing a gun — as a serious threat.
The reports were released on Saturday night by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, which asked for the outside reviews as it presents evidence to a grand jury that will determine whether Timothy Loehmann will be charged over Tamir’s death last November.
“We are not reaching any conclusions from these reports,” said prosecutor Timothy J McGinty in a statement. “The gathering of evidence continues, and the grand jury will evaluate it all.”
He said the reports, which included a technical reconstruction by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, were released in the interest of being “as public and transparent as possible”.
Subodh Chandra, a lawyer for the Rice family, said the release of the reports shows the prosecutor is avoiding accountability, which is what the family seeks.
“It is now obvious that the prosecutor’s office has been on a 12-month quest to avoid providing that accountability,” he said. He added that the prosecutor’s office didn’t provide his office or the Rice family with the details from the reports. He also questioned the timing of the release, at 8pm on Saturday on the ‘Columbus Day’ holiday weekend.
“To get so-called experts to assist in the whitewash — when the world has the video of what happened — is all the more alarming,” Chandra said. “Who will speak for Tamir before the grand jury? Not the prosecutor, apparently.”
Both experts were provided with surveillance video of the shooting that showed Loehmann firing at Tamir within two seconds after the police cruiser driven by his partner pulled up next to the boy.
The killing has become part of a national outcry about minorities, especially black boys and men, dying during encounters with police.
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