The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it has closed its investigation of the fatal 2014 police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, saying no criminal charges would be filed against the officers involved because video of the killing was not good enough to conclusively determine what happened.
"The video footage is grainy, shot from a distance, does not show detail or perspective, and portions of the incident are not visible because of the location of the patrol car," the DOJ explained in a statement. "Further, the time lapse footage captures approximately two frames per second at a variable rate, which is incapable of capturing continuous action."
Tamir Rice would have turned 18 this year.
His life was cut short by the police violence that is woven into the fabric of Black life in America. Lives depend on change.
— ACLU (@ACLU) December 30, 2020
On November 22, 2014 two Cleveland officers, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, responded to a police dispatch call regarding "a guy with a pistol" seen near the Cudell Recreation Center playground on the city's West Side. A 911 caller said that the person, "probably a juvenile," was "scaring the shit out of everyone," but added that "the gun was probably fake."
Rice was playing with a replica pellet gun with the orange safety barrel cap removed when Loehmann, a rookie officer, fatally shot him.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury then elected to not prosecute the officers, sparking widespread national outrage and spurring the nascent Black Lives Matter movement.
It cannot be called the Justice Department if it cannot bring about justice for the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
In Tamir’s honor, we say to every Black child: we love you. And we will never stop fighting to protect you. https://t.co/ZipZDe0b0V
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) December 30, 2020
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In 2016, Rice's family and the city of Cleveland reached a $6 million settlement, although attorneys for the family said that "there is no such thing as closure or justice" in such situations.
The Justice Department said that "after extensive examination of the facts in this tragic event, career... prosecutors have concluded that the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Loehmann willfully violated Tamir Rice's constitutional rights, or that Officers Loehmann or Garmback obstructed justice."
Trump pardons war criminals who murder Afghan children, war criminals who murder Iraqi children, & now Trump’s justice dept supports men who murder Black children.
All Lives Matter huh?
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) December 29, 2020
We must put an end to the two systems of justice in this country. Tamir Rice should be alive today and there should be justice for his family. https://t.co/QxhUbPmfpe
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) December 30, 2020
Subodh Chandra, an attorney for Rice's family, issued a statement in the wake of Tuesday's DOJ announcement claiming the government's "process was tainted."
"It's beyond comprehension that the [Justice] Department couldn't recognize that an officer who claims he shouted commands when the patrol car's window was closed and it was a winter day is lying," Chandra said. "The Rice family has been cheated of a fair process yet again."