Witnesses Contradict Officer on Warning to Tamir Rice

© AP Photo/Mark Duncan This still image taken from a surveillance video played at a news conference held by Cleveland Police, Nov. 26, 2014, shows Cleveland police officers arriving at Cudell Park on a report of a man with a gun.
© AP Photo/Mark Duncan This still image taken from a surveillance video played at a news conference held by Cleveland Police, Nov. 26, 2014, shows Cleveland police officers arriving at Cudell Park on a report of a man with a gun.

An Ohio prosecutor released a comprehensive account of the investigation into the death of Tamir Rice on Saturday, including witness reports that contradict a police officer’s claim that he shouted a warning before shooting and killing the 12-year-old boy last November.

Tamir was shot as he played in a Cleveland park, after police responded to a 911 call reporting a male with a firearm. He was playing with a toy plastic gun. The death and a delay in its investigation sparked public outrage and protests.

On Thursday, Cleveland municipal court judge Ronald Adrine said he found probable cause to bring a murder charge against the officer who fired the fatal shot, Timothy Loehmann. Adrine’s ruling, which prosecutors will consider, followed a request to look into the case by a group known as the Cleveland 8, a number of clergymen and local activists who support the Rice family.

In releasing a redacted 224-page account of the investigation by the Cuyahoga County sheriff’s department on Saturday, prosecutor Timothy McGinty said his intention was to be transparent.

“Transparency is essential for an intelligent discussion of the important issues raised by this case,” he said.

“If we wait years for all litigation to be completed before the citizens are allowed to know what actually happened, we will have squandered our best opportunity to institute needed changes in use-of-force policy, police training and leadership.”

The report made no conclusion as to whether the killing was justified, following a statement issued by McGinty on Thursday that a grand jury would ultimately decide whether criminal charges would be brought.

“As unbiased collectors of fact, the investigative team has not, and will not, render any opinion of the legality of the officers’ actions,” the report states.

Loehmann, 26, told investigators that when he arrived at the park and confronted Tamir, he told him several times to put his hands in the air, but the boy instead reached into his waistband and produced what turned out to be a toy gun.

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Source: The Guardian | Richard Luscombe

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