CLEVELAND — The family of Tamir Rice is asking the Department of Justice to intervene in the investigation into the police-involved shooting death of the 12-year-old boy.
According to attorneys for the Rice, they formally requested Tuesday that the federal government intervene to investigate both the boy’s death and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s handling of the case.
“For months, the Rice family and their representatives have expressed growing concern about unfairness and bias in the grand-jury process. Evidence of that bias and unfairness became so extreme that the family in October 2015 called for recusal of Mr. McGinty and appointment of an independent prosecutor,” said attorneys for the family.
“Last week, on December 7, 2015, the prosecutor’s misconduct intensified even further. Because it was apparent that the presentation to the grand jury was so unfair, the family was forced to retain its own experts in an attempt to have the grand jury consider accurate information on what actually happened the day Tamir Rice was killed. Although local prosecutors promised they would present those experts to the grand jury in a fair manner, in a remarkable turn of events, they sabotaged testimony of the family’s experts through a series of highly unprofessional and inappropriate tactics before the grand jury.”
According to the attorneys, the family’s two experts, Jeff Noble and Roger Clark, nationally recognized figures in the fields of law enforcement and excessive-force policy, left the grand jury last week stating that in their many decades of experience in state and federal courts across the country, they had never encountered such unfair, biased, unprofessional, and hostile treatment by a prosecutor’s office.
“This latest act of prosecutorial misconduct provides further evidence that the grand-jury process has been irreparably harmed in this very important case. It is clear local prosecutors are doing everything in their power to exonerate the officers, no matter what the evidence shows. They are not engaged in the transparent, fair, and thorough investigation of the truth that they promised Tamir Rice’s family, the citizens of Cleveland, and the nation, ensuring that the officers will never face justice,” attorneys say.
Prosecutor McGinty’s office released the following statement:
“These plaintiffs attorneys have spent months trying to inflame the media and the public with repeated, often inaccurate statements lobbying for their desired outcome.
“But when it comes to discussing what goes on inside any Grand Jury room, attorneys know our hands are tied. As prosecutors, we are not permitted to discuss the testimony given to any Grand Jury. This means the news media can receive a one-sided version of the story from lawyers who were not there.
“Any witness who appears before any Grand Jury is treated with respect but should expect thorough questioning from prosecutors and the grand jurors themselves.”
Tamir Rice was shot by Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann on Nov. 22, 2014, in the playground area of the Cudell Recreation Center.
Police went to the area, after a 911 caller reported a male in the area waving a gun. Police say they ordered Tamir three times to put his hands in the air, but instead he reached for his waistband. He was shot.
Tamir had an airsoft pistol that police say looked like a real gun.