The family of Tamir Rice is outraged upon finding out that a Cuyahoga County grand jury might never have voted in deciding whether to charge the officers involved in the 12-year-old’s 2014 death.
In an investigative report, Ohio-based Scene magazine found that the jury, led by county prosecutor Timothy McGinty, never conducted a vote before announcing on December 28 that officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback would not be charged with the preteen’s death. More so, there is no record of the decision at the county clerk’s office.
A spokesperson for prosecutor’s office told NBC News that it is routine for a grand jury not to cast a vote if it was already decided that an officer’s actions were justified. Such is reportedly the case in Rice’s death.
“The first question the grand jury has to decide after concluding their investigation is whether the officer’s use of deadly force was justified under the law,” Cuyahoga prosecutor spokesman Joseph Frolik said. “If they decide it was justified, they don’t vote on criminal charges. If they decide it’s not justified, they then vote on possible criminal charges.”
When announcing that no charges would be filed against Loehmann or Garmback, McGinty never explicitly said during the December 28 press conference that the grand jury had “voted,” though the decision method was assumed. Upon learning of discrepancy, Scene reporters submitted a request to obtain records summarizing the jury’s decision. However, such a document wasn’t on file, and employees at the prosecutor’s and clerk’s offices were unable to explain why.
“We were assured throughout this process that a recommendation regarding criminal charges would be made and that a vote would be taken by the grand jury,” attorneys for the Rice family said in a statement.
Rice was fatally shot on November 22, 2014 while playing with a toy gun at a Cleveland park. Police officers received reports that a man was waving a gun at bystanders. Within two seconds of arriving at the scene, Officer Loehmann exited the vehicle and opened fire, fatally shooting Rice, who died the following day. Multiple reports have called the shooting “justified,” though experts and witness video suggest that Rice was posing no threat when police arrived.