The police shooting death of a 12-year-oldCleveland boy with a pellet gun was reasonable, two experts say in reports prepared for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor.
Tamir Rice was killed by an officer in training outside a Cleveland recreation center in November 2014. The shooting sparked controversy given Tamir’s age and the fact that he had a gun that resembled a handgun but fired pellets.
It also came as the nation reeled from police-involved shootings of unarmed African-American men. Tamir was black.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said a grand jury will decide whether Officer Timothy Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, will face charges.
The two reports, as well as a third one by the Highway Patrol, were posted on the prosecutor’s website Saturday night.
“These cases are, by their very nature, different than other matters that come to our office,” McGinty said in a written statement. “They demand a higher level of public scrutiny as well as a careful evaluation of the officer’s conduct and whether, under law, those actions were reasonable under the circumstances.”
S. Lamar Sims, the senior chief deputy district attorney in Denver, wrote one of the reports and concludes Loehmann’s decision to shoot Rice as he approached the officers was “objectively reasonable”
“There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking,” Sims writes in his report. “However, for all of the reasons discussed herein, I conclude that Officer Loehmann’s belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat.”
Neither Loehmann nor Garmback spoke with the reports’ authors.