Bypassing local prosecutors, a group of Cleveland activists filed paperwork yesterday urging a judge to arrest the two officers responsible for the November death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
The group of activists, criminal justice consultants and clergymen took advantage of a seldom-used 1964 Cleveland law, which permits anyone who is fully aware of the facts of a case to request that a judge sign an arrest warrant.
“We believe that [Officer Timothy Loehmann] and [Officer Frank Garmback] caused the death of Tamir Rice in deeds that were unconscionable, reprehensible and, yes, criminal,” Rev. Jawanza Colvin, one of the activists who signed the affidavit, said at a press conference.
Rice was fatally shot in a public park last November. Police arrived at the scene after receiving reports of a boy playing with a “probably fake” gun. Video surveillance shows Loehmann and Garmback driving up to Rice. Within three seconds of exiting the police car, Loehmann shoots the boy. After being denied immediate medical attention, Rice was rushed to a local hospital. He died the following day.
In recent months, there has been outrage over the prolonged investigation in Rice’s death. Investigators recently concluded their probe last month—six months after Rice’s death—and no arrests have been made.
The affidavit would require a Cleveland municipal judge to immediately review the evidence and decide whether there are grounds for arrest. If so, both Loehmann and Garmback would be taken into custody, and the case would be passed along to a grand jury, which would decide whether the county would press charges.
“I’m not happy that we have to do this,” Rev. R.A. Vernon, who also signed the affidavit, said to Cleveland.com. “As an American citizen, I wish I could depend on our criminal justice system to do what is right.”
City officials haven’t responded to the paperwork.