Ohio – According to attorneys for the family of Tamir Rice, the local Ohio prosecutor Tim McGinty manipulated the Grand Jury process.
On Monday the prosecutor announced the jury had declined to indict officers who shot the 12-year-old to death in November 2014 as the boy was drawing a gun from his waist. After the shooting outside a Cleveland recreation center, officers discovered that the gun was actually a toy.
“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 attorneys declared in a statement Monday afternoon.
The officers involved in Tamir’s death are Timothy Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, who responded to the scene.
The prosecutor had advised not to charge the officers because the measure was not necessary, but the Grand Jury did not receive any notification of that recommendation before it made the final decision, according to McGinty’s office.
According to ABC News, the prosecutor told journalists that Loehmann, an officer-in-training, had reason to feel threatened as Tamir reached for his gun when the police car was approaching.
McGinty also pointed out that both officers thought the gun was real because it had no orange tip, a detail that would have clearly indicated that the gun was actually fake. He admitted that Tamir’s death was a tragedy, but remarked that the police officers had not committed any crime.
The attorneys said that Tamir’s family was not surprised but still disappointed by the jury’s decision. They also accused the prosecutor of hiring expert witnesses in an attempt to exonerate the officers by making the Grand Jury believe their actions were “reasonable and justified”.
The attorneys added that McGinty authorized the police officers to read prepared declarations to the grand jury even when they did not answer any questions on cross-examination.
Legally, the prosecutor should have sought a court order to make the officers answer the questions or to hold them in contempt in case they continued to decline going through that step. Non-police suspects would have never received such a special treatment.
The attorneys told reporters they are issuing a new request with the Department of Justice, expecting it to lead a real investigation. In Cleveland, police officials will conduct an administrative review of the tragic incident, as Mayor Frank Jackson informed on Monday after the grand jury’s decision was announced.
In case the committee assigned to review the incident determines Loehmann and Garmback violated policies or procedures, they could face disciplinary action, according to Calvin Williams, Cleveland Police Chief.
He added that, as part of the legal process, both of the officers have been on restricted duty since the shooting occurred and will remain so until the administrative process is completed.