An Ohio county prosecutor is refusing to unseal transcripts from last month’s grand jury hearings, in which jurors declined to indict officers in the 2014 death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
Cleveland.com reports that local NAACP officials had approached Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, demanding that he release the grand jury’s documents so activists could see what evidence and information was presented to the jurors. However, hours after Cleveland NAACP president Michael Nelson submitted the request, McGinty responded and denied the request.
“Grand jury secrecy is designed to allow grand jurors and witnesses to perform their legal duties without fear of retaliation or recrimination,” McGinty said in a release. “Mr. Nelson’s call for eliminating grand jury protections in this case would set a dangerous precedent. To subject the grand jury to the hate mail and death threats this case has generated would be unwise and unfair to the dedicated citizens who served as grand jurors.”
Rice was fatally shot November 2014 by former Cleveland Officer Timothy Loehmann while playing with a toy gun at a public park. Police received reports of a man waving a gun around at bystanders. Within one second of arriving on the scene, Loehmann exited the vehicle and opened fire, killing Rice.
McGinty, responding to the NAACP’s requests, pointed to the multiple independent investigators have found that Loehmann’s actions were “reasonable,” though an expert hired by the family said that the shooting was not justified.
“The written investigative report issued to the public and the grand jury investigation are totally separate and must remain so by law,” McGinty said.
In its original request, the NAACP said that it would file a court order demanding that the documents be released. Civil rights activists haven’t yet responded to McGinty’s comments.