CLEVELAND – Expert witnesses reviewing the deadly shooting of 12 year old Tamir Rice say they believe a Cleveland Police officer’s use of deadly force ‘falls within the realm of reasonableness.’
The witness reports were done for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office and just released Saturday night.
The Fox 8 I-Team was first to report the new developments on social media.
One expert attorney S. Lamar Sims wrote in a 52-page report, “I conclude 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.”
The expert reviews will not determine if there are any charges filed. Prosecutor Tim McGinty has said that use of force cases that result in death will all go to grand juries for decision on whether charges will be filed.
McGinty said his office would release the expert reports as soon as they came in so the public could see what they said.
County Prosecutors also had a Highway Patrol expert review the speed of the police car arriving at the scene. After reviewing the video, the scene, and the car, plus doing complex math, the expert estimated the police car arrived at the scene traveling 15-22 mph.
Read the entire statement from the Prosecutor’s Office below:
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office is releasing three expert reports regarding the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer on November 22, 2014. Additional analysis has been commissioned and also will be released when completed.
As stated when we released the Sheriff’s investigative report in June, transparency is needed for an intelligent discussion of the important issues raised in police use of deadly force cases. These cases are, by their very nature, different than other matters that come to our office.
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.
In keeping with our policy in all cases where there has been a fatal use of deadly force by law enforcement officers, all evidence will be presented to the Grand Jury.
Members of the Grand Jury also can request additional investigation and ask to hear from additional witnesses. It is the Grand Jury that ultimately decides, after its investigation is complete, whether criminal charges are warranted.
The first report comes from the Ohio Highway Patrol and is a technical reconstruction of conditions at Cudell Recreation Center last November 22.
The other two reports evaluate the use of deadly force in the death of Tamir Rice. The authors are these reports are:
• S. Lamar Sims, Senior Chief Deputy District Attorney in the Office of the Denver District Attorney Mitchell R. Morrissey. Mr. Sims is a Harvard Law School graduate and has been a prosecutor in Colorado since 1981. He is a frequent speaker at seminars on proper use of force by law enforcement officers and has handled numerous fatal use of deadly force investigations.
• Kimberly A. Crawford, a retired Supervisory Special Agent assigned to the Legal Instruction Unit at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where she taught classes in the use of deadly force. A graduate of Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Ms. Crawford was an FBI agent for more than 20 years and since 2009 has been an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Northern Virginia Community College in Fairfax, Virginia.
We are not reaching any conclusions from these reports. The gathering of evidence continues and the Grand Jury will evaluate it all.
We have invited attorneys for the Rice family to offer input and/or evidence, and we continue to invite public dialogue regarding the use of deadly force in this and other cases with the goal of preventing these tragic occurrences.
This approach by our office has ended the protocol of total secrecy that once surrounded the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers.
When a citizen is purposefully killed by police, the results of the investigation should be as public and transparent as possible. No longer will the public just receive a conclusion from the County Prosecutor.
Now the ultimate decision on reasonableness will be made by the citizens of this county through the Grand Jury.
Starting with the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams at Heritage Middle School in East Cleveland almost three years ago, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office has shared the facts in these investigations with the public.
By doing so, we hope to eliminate speculation as well as to inspire changes in attitudes, hiring and training that will prevent future tragedies.
Unfortunately, the police union has taken a short-sighted position by refusing to cooperate with this investigation and others, making it more challenging to find answers and needlessly delaying the process of justice.
We seek only the facts and the truth. The union operates by a double standard: It rightly asks the general public to have the courage to cooperate with police in serious criminal investigations, yet when the conduct of officers is being investigated, refuses to help.
This attitude goes against the best interests of both individual officers and the public. I would encourage all conscientious police officers to instruct their union leaders to reconsider this ill-advised stance.
Doing so will greatly enhance this community’s efforts to mend the trust between the police and the people they have sworn to protect.
Back in June, the Sheriff’s Department released the results of their investigation to the Prosecutor’s Office in the case and they have been reviewing the report since then.
Rice was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer November 22, 2014 in the playground area of the Cudell Recreation Center.
The shooting happened after a 911 caller advised police there was a male at the rec center waving a gun. The 911 caller told sheriff detectives that he described the male as “probably” a juvenile waving a “fake” gun and said the male was pulling the gun in an out of his waist band and pointing it at people.
The dispatcher who gave the call to police, did not relay all the information to officers who responded. She refused to answer detectives’ questions per her attorney about not relaying specific information to officer.
When officers arrived, they saw Tamir Rice. According to police, Officer Timothy Loehmann told Rice to put his hands in the air but instead the 12-year-old reached for his waistband. Rice had an airsoft pistol that police say looked like a real gun.
The Sheriff’s Department report states that Loehmann was about 4 ½ feet to 7 feet away from Tamir Rice when he fired his weapon.
Some witnesses interviewed were unclear if commands were given prior to the gunshots being fired.
Loehmann and his partner Frank Garmack did not talk to Sheriff detectives. The Sheriff’s Department report further states that Tamir Rice got the airsoft pistol from his friend in exchange for a cell phone.
Other officers responding to the scene, thought the airsoft pistol was real and said they thought Tamir was 20.
Statement from President of the Police Union Steve Loomis:
While we agree wholeheartedly with the findings of the independent investigators, we are not celebrating them. We have maintained from day one our officers took appropriate action given the facts and circumstances they were aware of at the time. We have also maintained and truly believe that this has been an absolute tragedy for the Rice family as well as our involved officers.
Statement from City of Cleveland, Division of Police:
The City of Cleveland, Division of Police is aware of the release of expert reports relative to the Tamir Rice case. Neither city nor police officials have had the opportunity to examine the report. The case is still in the review process with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. Once the case is reviewed and ruled on by the Grand Jury, the City of Cleveland, Division of Police will reconvene the administrative review of the incident.