Washington (AP) – The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it would not bring federal criminal charges against two Cleveland police officers, killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, the video of the shooting was too bad a quality for prosecutors Decisively establish what happened.
In closing the case, the department ended a long-running investigation into a high-profile shooting that helped spur the Black Lives Matter movement and about the use of police against minorities, including children Became part of the national dialogue. This ruling, revealed in a lengthy statement, does not support the officers’ actions, but rather states that the cumulative evidence was not sufficient to support a federal criminal civil rights prosecution.
Tamir was playing with a pellet gun outside an entertainment center in Cleveland on November 22, 2014, when he was shot and killed by Officer Timothy Lohman, who is white, seconds after Lohman and his fellow officer Frank Paramback, Arrived at the scene. . Officers were called to the recreation center after a man was drinking beer and a 911 waiting for a bus to report that a “man” was pointing a gun at people. The caller told a 911 dispatcher that it was probably a juvenile and that the gun may have been “fake”, although this information was never disclosed to authorities.
To bring federal civil rights charges in such cases, the Department of Justice must prove that an officer’s action would break the law rather than be the result of mistake, negligence, or bad judgment. It has been a consistently difficult burden for federal prosecutors for both Democratic and Republican administrations, with the Justice Department declining criminal charges against police officers in other high-profile cases in recent years, including the deaths of Eric Garner in New York City Huh. And Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The boy’s family’s lawyer Subodh Chandra said in a statement that the Justice Department’s “process was tainted” and the family has demanded the prosecution provide additional information about the recommendations made during the investigation.
Chandra said, “It is beyond comprehension that the department could not recognize that an officer who claimed that he had ordered when the patrol car window was closed and it was winter day is lying,” Chandra said . “The Rice Family has been betrayed by a fair process again.”
In this case, the Department of Justice stated that poor-quality surveillance video recorded in the area where the shooting occurred prevented prosecutors from being able to conclusively determine whether Rice was in his possession just before the shoot. Whether or not the toys were reaching for the gun. The two officers who were investigated told officers immediately after the shooting that Rice was reaching for his toy weapon before being shot and that several orders were given to show him the hand.
But the video reviewed by federal prosecutors makes the sequence of events less clear. The plaintiffs said the grainy time-lapse video, which has no audio, “does not show detail or perspective” and the camera’s view is interrupted by a police patrol car. Furthermore, he said, although the position of the boy’s arms suggests they were in the vicinity of his waist, “his hands are not visible in the video and it cannot be determined from the video what he is was doing.”
The Department of Justice says seven use-of-matter experts – three made by the family, four by local authorities – reviewed the recordings, but the poor quality of the videos on which they depended and their “conflicting opinion matter very little Added. ” Family experts said the shooting was inappropriate, while four others said it was justified.
The New York Times reported in October that the department had effectively closed the investigation, but Tuesday’s announcement makes it official.
The inconsistent witness statements also complicate any prosecution, nor did the person say they saw what Rice was doing just before the shooting, according to the Justice Department.
Prosecutors said that in a statement given to three other law enforcement officers, Lohman “repeatedly and consistently” stated that Tamir was arriving before being fired by a gun.
Both Loehmann and Garmbach also stated in post-shooting statements that Loehmann had given Tamir “several orders to show his hands before the shooting” and that both officers saw him arriving for the weapon. Prosecutors said Loehmann and Garmbach were the only two witnesses in the “vicinity of the shooting”.
A state grand jury declined to induce Loehmann, though it was later revealed that he had previously been deemed “unfit for duty”.
The Justice Department also investigated whether officers obstructed justice in statements made to other investigators immediately after the shooting. Prosecutors concluded that although the statements contained somewhat different language, they were generally consistent. And since there was not enough evidence to substantiate the statements, there was not enough evidence to prove that the officers tried to mislead investigators or obstruct the investigation of their actions.
Associated Press writer Mark Gillisfi in Cleveland contributed to this report.