A white Cleveland police officer 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 in November exercised a reasonable use of force because he had reason to perceive the boy — described in a 911 call as man waving and pointing a gun — as a serious threat.
The reports were released 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 ultimately determine whether Timothy Loehmann will be charged in Tamir’s death.
“We are not reaching any conclusions from these reports,” prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said in a statement. “The gathering of evidence continues, and the grand jury will evaluate it all.”
He said the reports were released in the interest of being “as public and transparent as possible.”
The lawyer for Tamir’s family, Subodh Chandra, said that the family wants the officers held accountable and that it seemed as if “the prosecutor’s office has been on a 12-month quest” to avoid that.
Surveillance video of the shooting showed Loehmann firing at Tamir within two seconds after the police cruiser driven by his partner pulled up next to the boy. Police say the officers were responding to a call about a man with a gun, but were not told that the caller said the gun could be a fake and the suspect an adolescent.
The report prepared by retired FBI agent Kimberly A. Crawford concluded that Loehmann’s use of force did not violate Tamir’s constitutional rights.
Loehmann, she wrote, “had no information to suggest the weapon was anything but a real handgun, and the speed with which the confrontation progressed would not give the officer time to focus on the weapon.”
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