Investigators both concluded that other officers would have exhibited identical behavior if placed in the same situation.
Two independent agencies have concluded that Cleveland Officer Timothy Loehmann acted reasonably in last year’s fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, reports the New York Times.
Rice was killed on November 22 while holding a toy gun in a public park. A bystander called 911 to report that a boy was holding a “probably fake” gun, which the dispatcher failed to convey to police. When officers arrived on the scene, Loehmann exited the car and, within two seconds, shot Rice, who died the following day at a hospital. His death was ruled a homicide.
A Colorado prosecutor and a former F.B.I. agent have launched independent probes into Rice’s death, and both found that Loehmann acted reasonably in his actions. Their findings will be turned over to a grand jury.
“The question is not whether every officer would have reacted the same way,” wrote retired agent Kimberly Crawford. “Rather the relevant inquiry is whether a reasonable officer, confronting the exact same scenario under identical conditions could have concluded that deadly force was necessary.”
Colorado prosecutor S. Lamar Sims came to a similar conclusion, noting that Rice’s age could not be considered a factor.
“There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking,” he wrote. “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 findings will be presented to a grand jury. A start date for the jury has not been announced.
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