Grand Jury Declines to Indict Cleveland Officers in Tamir Rice Shooting

A grand jury has declined to indict two Cleveland police officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor announced Monday.

Tim McGinty said the grand jury's decision to not bring charges against officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback was "based on the evidence they heard and the law as it applies to police use of deadly force."

"Now it's time for the community to start to heal," McGinty said during a news conference Monday afternoon.  

In a statement, the Rice family's attorneys said they are "saddened and dissapointed" with the grand jury's decision, but "not surprised."

Rice was killed while carrying a pellet gun outside a city recreation center in November 2014. Rice was shot by patrolman Loehmann within two seconds of a police cruiser skidding to a stop near the boy. Loehmann and his partner, Garmback, had responded to a 911 call about a man waving a gun. Rice was carrying a borrowed airsoft gun that looked like a real gun but shot nonlethal plastic pellets.

McGinty says newly enhanced video shows that it is "indisputable" that Tamir was removing his gun from his waistband when he was shot, adding that "a perfect storm of human error" led to his death.

The Rice family called for any protests following the grand jury's decision to be peaceful, and renewed its request Monday that the Department of Justice investigate the shooting, according to the family's statement.

"The Rice family is grateful for all the community support they have received and urges people who want to express their disappointment with how Prosecutor McGinty has handled this process to do so peacefully and democratically," the statement read.

Attorneys representing the Rice family have called a series of experts' reports commissioned by McGinty that conclude the officers were justified as "utterly biased and deeply flawed." The reports were part of the evidence presented to the grand jury in November.

"It is unheard of, and highly improper, for a prosecutor to hire 'experts' to try to exonerate the targets of a grand jury investigation. These are the sort of 'experts' we would expect the officer’s criminal defense attorney to hire — not the prosecutor," the Rice family attorneys' statement said.

The Rice attorneys retained their own experts, two former Southern California law enforcement officials, who concluded that the shooting was not justified.

Roger Clark, a consultant formerly with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, said in his report that the speed with which the video shows Loehmann firing indicates neither he nor Garmback tried to deescalate the situation, NBC News reported. After initially refusing to allow the reports commissioned by the family attorneys to be entered as evidence, McGinty agreed to present them.

A video of the shooting captured by a surveillance camera provoked outrage nationally and made Rice a central figure in the protest movement decrying police killings.

The grand jury had been hearing evidence and testimony since mid-October.

The conclusion of the grand jury's investigation does not bring the investigations into Rice's shooting to an end. 

The police administrative process will begin, with a commitee reviewing evidence of the shooting, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference at 3 p.m. CT. He wouldn't speculate on how long the review would take, but said it wouldn't be dragged out unnecessarily long.

"I want to again send our prayers out, not only to the Rice family but to the city," Williams said. "We're going to get through this as we've gotten through things in the past, and the city will be better for it."

Michael Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said Monday afternoon that an independent civil rights investigation is continuing in the Rice case despite the grand jury's decision.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson noted at a news conference that the city has already agreed to implement reforms spurred by a Justice Department investigation that found its police department engaged repeatedly used "excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich responded to the ruling soon after it was announced in a statement: "Tamir Rice’s death was a heartbreaking tragedy and I understand how this decision will leave many people asking themselves if justice was served. We all lose, however, if we give in to anger and frustration and let it divide us."

Refresh this page for updates on this developing story. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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