An open letter to the sponsors of the Tamir Rice Justice Petition:
We have some unfortunate and alarming news to share with you.
County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has been telling people he will not comply with the recommendation of Cleveland Municipal Judge Ronald Adrine to charge the officers responsible for the death of Tamir Rice, and force them to defend their actions in court. Even worse, he is saying he does not agree with Judge Adrine’s finding that there is probable cause to charge the officers with any crime. He says he has conducted a thorough investigation of the facts in the Nov. 22, 2014 shooting and will present them to the grand jury some time this month and let them decide if charges should be filed. But if he goes to the grand jury with no recommendation or a recommendation that there is no probable cause to indict, or before releasing the second video of the shooting, it is extremely unlikely the grand jury on its own will file charges.
In other words, McGinty is hiding behind the grand jury and refusing to seek justice on behalf of our community as he was elected to do. This is the same cowardly ploy used by the prosecutors in the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson and the killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island. They walked away and said it was the grand jury’s decision and they are not responsible. McGinty is further saying that the reason he does not see grounds for charges is that Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Tamir less than one second after getting out of the squad car, and Officer Frank Garmback, who drove right up to Tamir, were in “fear for their lives” and were therefore justified in summarily shooting to kill the 12-year-old boy. It is true that if an officer is in reasonable fear for his life, he is authorized under our laws to use deadly force, but there is no basis for such a “reasonable fear” in this case. The officers had no need to drive right up to Tamir and a simple verbal warning would have avoided the tragedy. Furthermore, the only information they had was the statement of the dispatcher that there was “a black male with a gun.” Having a gun in public unfortunately is not illegal in Ohio, but if these officers wish to argue that the fact that this person was black gave them a “reasonable fear” for their lives, let them say that in open court and let McGinty say that in public.
Judge Adrine’s ruling, which is published in full in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/…/document-cleveland-judge-to-charge…), was based on the video of the event, which he called “notorious and hard to watch.” He further said that he was “thunderstruck by how quickly the encounter turned deadly” and that the video shows the toy gun was not in Tamir’s hands when he was shot. Adrine said there was probable cause to charge Officer Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless and negligent homicide, and dereliction of duty and to charge Garmback with reckless and negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. He said there was no probable cause to charge either officer with aggravated murder, which usually involves planning and premeditation, but was apparently unaware that planning and premeditation are not required to charge someone with aggravated murder if the victim is under the age of 13. Adrine’s ruling ended by recommending that the county and/or city prosecutor file charges accordingly.
So what does this mean for those of us seeking justice and accountability in this terrible case of police abuse of deadly force? It means we believe that pressure must increase on Prosecutor McGinty to state publicly and before the grand jury that he will seek charges against the officers responsible. As you know, last August we presented McGinty with 60,000 signatures on the petition demanding that he file charges. A letter from the Tamir Rice Justice Committee and the list of 110 sponsors was included. McGinty has not responded to our letter. We now urge you to contact McGinty directly and to ask any group you are a part of to do likewise. Tell him he has a responsibility to seek justice on behalf of this community and to stand up for the principle that arbitrary, reckless and summary executions of citizens by police are incompatible with our democratic system of government. When running for the office of Prosecutor, McGinty said he was well aware that there is a widespread perception, especially in the black community, that the criminal justice system in Cuyahoga County is racially biased and it was his intention to do everything in his power to dispel that belief. This is Timothy McGinty’s chance to make good on that promise.
LaTonya Goldsby, Coordinator
Tamir Rice Justice Committee
You can read Judge Adrine’s ruling here. Here is the,
Cleveland Police Phone Number: 216.623.5000
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty: 216.443.7800
Mayor Frank Jackson: 216.664.3990