Two Outside Reviewers Back Cleveland Officer in Shooting of Tamir Rice

tamirrice
A mourner looks at a program during the funeral service for Tamir Rice in Cleveland on December 3, 2014. Rice had an Airsoft-type replica gun that resembles a semi-automatic pistol and was fatally shot by a patrol officer after a 911 call reported someone pointing a gun at people at the Cudell Recreation Center. Aaron Jozefczyk/Reuters

Two new reports assert that the white rookie Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice last November was justified in his actions.

The reports, which were requested by the prosecutor investigating the death of the young African American, were submitted by a Denver prosecutor and a retired FBI agent and released by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office on Saturday night.

They say the officer who shot Rice, Timothy Loehmann, was justified in his use of force because he had reason to believe the boy was a threat. Rice was playing with a pellet gun as Loehmann pulled up in a patrol car, and the officer was responding to an emergency call that reported a man had been pointing and waving a gun. The officer wasn't told it was potentially a fake gun and that the man was actually a 12-year-old boy. The dispatcher who had failed to disclose that Rice's gun might have been fake resigned, reports USA Today.

The two outside reviewers were presented with surveillance videos from that fateful November day that showed Loehmann firing at Rice. He shot Rice within seconds after a police car, driven by his partner, had pulled up next to him, according to CBS News.

Denver's chief deputy district attorney, Lamar Sims, wrote in his report that Loehmann's utilization of deadly force was within reason based on a reconstruction of that day's actions, as well as witness accounts. He added: "The officers did not create the violent situation. They were responding to a situation fraught with the potential for violence to citizens."

Kimberly A. Crawford, the retired FBI agent asked to review the evidence, wrote that Loehmann "had no information to suggest the weapon was anything but a real handgun, and the speed with which the confrontation progressed would not give the officer time to focus on the weapon." She added that his use of force didn't violate Rice's constitutional rights, and that Loehmann's decision "falls within the realm of reasonableness under the dictates of the Fourth Amendment."

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Timothy J. McGinty, said in a statement that his office is not "reaching any conclusions from these reports." He said the reports were released to the media in an effort to make the process "as public and transparent as possible." The Rice family lawyer, Subodh Chandra, responded: "It's rather sad the prosecutor's office gave the material to the media rather than the victim's family." Chandra is currently reviewing the reports.

The prosecutor's office requested the outside reports as it's preparing evidence to present to a grand jury. The jury will then determine whether Loehmann will be charged in Rice's death. Cleveland 19 News reported that lawyers for the Rice family requested last month that aggravated murder charges be filed against Loehmann, on the basis that Rice was under 13 when he was killed.

Rice's untimely death has become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, which decries what it says are the deaths of black people at the hands of largely white law enforcement acting upon pre-existing racial profiles.

Two Outside Reviewers Back Cleveland Officer in Shooting of Tamir Rice | U.S.