Six years after the tragic police shooting of Tamir Rice, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that no charges will be brought against any of the officers involved in his death.
Due to the DOJ’s decision, the case has officially been closed. In a statement obtained by NPR, the DOJ announced it found a lack of sufficient evidence to “support federal criminal charges against Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback.”
The Feds maintained that video footage from the shooting was of poor quality and could not help prosecutors determine what transpired.
According to NPR, Rice’s family was informed of the decision on Monday. In response, Rice’s family attorney Subodh Chandra called the DOJ’s process “tainted” and inquired about additional information in relation to the investigation the Associated Press reports.
“It’s beyond comprehension that the Department couldn’t recognize that an officer who claims he shouted commands when the patrol car’s window was closed and it was a winter day is lying,” Chandra said. “The Rice family has been cheated of a fair process yet again.”
Rice, a central figure of the Black Lives Matter movement, was only 12-years old when he was shot to death by Cleveland police on Nov. 22, 2014. He was playing with a pellet gun when officers arrived at a Cleveland recreation center responding to a 911 call that reported the child was holding a gun and reportedly aiming it at people. Not more than three seconds passed after Loehmann and Garmback’s arrival before Rice was fired upon.
The man who called 911 informed the dispatcher that it was probably a juvenile holding a fake gun, but that information was never told to the officers.
In 2015, an Ohio grand jury declined to indict the officers, although Loehmann was later fired in 2017 after being found “unfit for duty.”
In cases like Rice’s, prosecutors must prove that an officer willfully broke the law rather than being the result of a mistake, negligence or bad judgment, which often shields officers after cases where someone is killed due to excessive force.
The DOJ’s decision follows a devastating trail of closed cases, where Black families who lost a loved one killed by the police are dealt another heartbreaking blow without the pursuit of justice. Rice’s death was especially jarring in the aftermath of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. All three were killed by police in 2014.