CLEVELAND – Just 24 hours after announcing a Cuyahoga County grand jury’s decision to not indict two Cleveland police officers involved with the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Prosecutor Tim McGinty sat down with Fox 8 to discuss the case.
“This was especially difficult,” McGinty said. “We had a child , just a tragic accident. It could have been my son or my grandson. What a terrible event that unfolded.”
But McGinty said , while the case was extremely tragic, he did not believe the officers committed any crime. His office recommended to the grand jury that no criminal charges be filed.
12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by a Cleveland police officer November 22, 2014 in the playground area of the Cudell Recreation Center.
Attorneys for Tamir Rice’s family have asked for months for Prosecutor McGinty to step down and appoint a special prosecutor. McGinty, said it is his job to handle cases, even the difficult ones.
He said there was no reason to appoint a special prosecutor because that is only to be done in cases where there is a conflict of interest, he said none existed.
“They said the conflict is that we work with police officers, but we have indicted police officers before,” McGinty said, noting that in 2014 his office indicted several officers involved in the 2012 Cleveland police chase and shooting.
The prosecutor also disagreed with a statement from Tamir’s family that he was “abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment. Even though video shows the police shooting Tamir in less than one second.”
The attorneys for the family also said the prosecutor allowed the police officers involved to take “the oath and read prepared statements to the grand jury without answering any questions on cross-examination.”
McGinty stressed his office cannot specifically address issues the family has brought up, because Ohio law prohibits him from speaking directly on what happened during the grand jury.
Grand jury proceedings are secret.
He did, however, state that some comments made by the attorneys for the family are “inaccurate.”
The family has said they are disappointed the officers will not face criminal charges, and have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the matter. The DOJ says they are reviewing the request.
A civil suit filed by the family against the city, and the officers, is still pending in federal court.