Ohio Judge Finds Probable Cause For Murder Charges In Tamir Rice Case

A Judge in Cleveland has found that there is probable cause to charge a Cleveland Police Officer with murder in the death of Tamir Rice, but that is hardly the end of the matter.

Tamir Rice

After a somewhat unusual legal proceeding that essentially amounted to an effort by community activists to bypass the Cuyahoga County District Attorney, at Judge in Cleveland has found that probable cause exists to charge the Cleveland Police Officer who shot and killed 12 year-old Tamir Rice with murder, but it’s unclear where the matter goes from here:

A judge in Cleveland ruled Thursday that probable cause existed to charge two Cleveland police officers in the death of a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, but the judge also said he did not have the power to order arrests without a complaint being filed by a prosecutor.

In his ruling, Judge Ronald B. Adrine, presiding judge of the Municipal Court, found probable cause to charge Officer Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shot, with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and dereliction of duty. He also found probable cause to charge Officer Loehmann’s partner, Officer Frank Garmback, with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.

“This court determines that complaints should be filed by the prosecutor of the City of Cleveland and/or the Cuyahoga County prosecutor,” Judge Adrine wrote.

The shooting of Tamir last Nov. 22 was one of a series of killings of unarmed black males by police officers around the country that have prompted widespread protests and calls for reform in race relations and the use of force by officers. The county prosecutor, Timothy J. McGinty, has been handling the case, and although Judge Adrine’s ruling is not binding, it puts added pressure on Mr. McGinty in a closely scrutinized case.

Mr. McGinty released a terse statement indicating that he would not be rushed into filing a criminal complaint.

“This case, as with all other fatal use-of-deadly-force cases involving law enforcement officers, will go to the grand jury,” he said. “That has been the policy of this office since I was elected. Ultimately, the grand jury decides whether police officers are charged or not charged.”

In a statement, a city spokesman, Daniel Williams, said city prosecutors would leave the case to Mr. McGinty to “review and to determine whether charges will be issued.”

This week, a group of activists and community leaders asked the court to have the officers arrested under an Ohio law that allows “a private citizen having knowledge of the facts” to start the process by filing an affidavit with a court. They argued that the widely seen video of an officer killing Tamir had given nearly everyone “knowledge of the facts.”

The Ohio law, in effect in various forms since 1960, is unusual and rarely invoked, and lawyers have disagreed about what might be achieved by using it.

Walter Madison, a lawyer for Tamir’s family and one of the people petitioning the court, called Thursday’s result a victory. “The people made the system work for them,” he said. “The onus now is on the government to act, and I don’t think a prosecutor’s office is going to defy a court.”

But Henry Hilow, the lawyer for Officer Loehmann, said the ruling should have no effect on the process. “We’re not going to get caught up in the rhetoric of individuals who do not have firsthand knowledge of what took place that day and have not been privy to any of the investigation that’s been done,” Mr. Hilow said.

Ric Simmons, an Ohio State University law professor, said that Thursday’s findings did not change the fact that prosecutors would decide the next steps. “All it does essentially is put pressure on the county prosecutor,” he said.

The petitioners argued that the statute allowed ordinary citizens to bypass the police and prosecutors; if they showed probable cause that a crime had been committed, they said, then the court had no choice but to order the officers arrested. Some legal experts said the wording was not so clear.

Judge Adrine said there was a conflict between the law and rules laid down by the Ohio Supreme Court, so he could not issue warrants without a prosecutor’s complaint.

The Cuyahoga County sheriff’s office conducted a five-month investigation and handed its findings to Mr. McGinty’s office early this month, but they have not been made public, and Mr. McGinty said his office still had investigating of its own to do. Eventually, his office said, prosecutors will take the case to a grand jury, which will decide whether to issue indictments. But no one could say how long that would take.

That, the petitioners said, was the problem; they argued that if the people involved had not been wearing uniforms, they would have been arrested long ago. Yet nearly seven months after Tamir died, no decision has been made.

“The video in question in this case is notorious and hard to watch,” Judge Adrine wrote in his order. “After viewing it several times, this court is still thunderstruck by how quickly this event turned deadly,” he wrote, adding that Officer Loehmann fired his gun before the car he was riding in had even come to a stop.

The activists who brought this petition responded to the Judge’s ruling by calling for an arrest warrant against Officer Loehmann, but it seems fairly clear that there’s really no way they can force this to come about. The law that formed the basis under which this proceeding was brought does not authorize a Judge to issue arrest warrants, instead leaving that authority to prosecutors themselves. Additionally, Judges generally do not have the authority to force a prosecutor to pursue criminal charges in any case, or to proceed faster in a particular case. As noted above, the Cuyahoga prosecutor has said that yesterday’s ruling will have no impact on his ongoing investigation of the matter. Previously, he has said that he would follow the same procedure that has always been followed in police-involved shootings in his jurisdiction, which is to submit the matter to a Grand Jury that will decide whether or not charges should be brought. Notwithstanding the efforts of the activists, there doesn’t seem to be anything in Ohio law that can deter the prosecutor from pursuing this course and bringing charges before submission to a Grand Jury and, even if he did, the matter would still need to be presented to a Grand Jury to determine if there was probable cause to go forward. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the Judge’s ruling in this proceeding seems to be based almost solely on witness statements from civilians and the videotape. There was apparently no testimony from the officer involved, who would have had the right to remain silent in any case, or from anyone affiliated with the Police Department’s investigation of this matter. Given that, I wouldn’t necessarily accept the Judge’s finding that the evidence is sufficient to justify murder charges at face value.

In the end then, this ruling is largely symbolic, but it could serve as political pressure against the prosecutor, who is elected, to move forward with the case. In that regard, it is worth noting that this same prosecutor recently lost a case in which they charged another police officer who was involved in a high speech trace and shooting that resulted in the deaths of two individuals. After that happened, there have been some suggestions that the prosecutor may be gun shy about pursuing another case against another cop that could result in an acquittal. The facts of this case, though, seem to cry out for prosecution. The video shows that Rice was simply playing in a city park when Officer Loehmann drive up in his patrol car, got out, and immediately started firing. There is no indication whatsoever that he attempted to assess the situation, attempted to confirm the identity of the person in the park, or attempted to determine if that person was a threat. He was, apparently, acting based solely on the report that had been relayed over the police radio, which itself was based on a telephone call to a 911 dispatcher. Its ambiguous from what we do know whether he knew that Tamir Rice was merely playing with toy gun, but it seems to me that it hardly matters given the way the officer acted when he got on the scene. If not murder, his actions would certainly seem to be reckless enough to constitute manslaughter or to at least justify charges being brought against him. It’s time for the prosecutor to get moving this one.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Race and Politics, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    Additionally, it’s worth noting that the Judge’s ruling in this proceeding seems to be based almost solely on witness statements from civilians and the videotape. There was apparently no testimony from the officer involved, who would have had the right to remain silent in any case, or from anyone affiliated with the Police Department’s investigation of this matter. Given that, I wouldn’t necessarily accept the Judge’s finding that the evidence is sufficient to justify murder charges at face value.

    If there’s a videotape and eyewitness accounts of me, a civilian, driving up to a 12 year old boy, stepping out of my car wth a gun in my hand, and shooting him dead within two seconds, I guarantee that you and everyone else wouldn’t even be questioning if there was sufficient evidence to charge me with murder, whether or not I offered any testimony.

  2. stonetools says:

    The fact that the case as clear as this has been slow walked just shows far we have to go before the country will effectively deal with the problem of excessive police violence against civilians. I think there will eventually have to be federal legislation to deal with this issue, although I am unclear when this will happen or what the particulars might be.

  3. Rafer,

    Gee by your logic, why don’t we just skip the trial altogether and hang the officer in Public Square at Noon?

  4. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As you know, Doug, we are talking about indictment , not trial. The case for indictment is straightforward, here, and frankly I am gobsmacked as to why there hasn’t been an indictment yet.
    Presumably, the powers that be in Cleveland are delaying in the hope that public feeling and attention to the case will die down. That won’t happen. One of the reasons is won’t happen is that almost every month there is a further example of flagrant police misconduct like in McKinney, Texas.

    Lord knows what really happened to spark the chaos. Tatiana Rhodes said it was two white women who uttered racial insults to her and her pool guests. an altercation between two adults. Benét Embry said it was “a pool party run amok” by teens who didn’t live in the Craig Ranch suburb north of Dallas scaling the fence to get to the community pool. To be honest, I don’t quite care. Calling the cops was fine. What they did once they got there is what’s at issue. And what we watched Casebolt do to Dajerra was unconscionable.

    The list of horribles in this video is lengthy.Dejerria and friends walk away after Casebolt yells, “Get out of here. I already told you. Leave!” Seconds later, he grabs Dejerria and slings her around like a rag doll. Casebolt pulls his gun on two other teens. He restrains a half-naked and crying Becton, who continually pleads for her mother to be called, face down in the grass. Throughout the encounter, he can be heard hurling expletives at the kids like candy.

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doug, are you just trying to play dumb and stupid here or can you not actually read? Do you know what the words (and I’ll put this in all caps and bold so you can focus on it) “CHARGE WITH” mean?

    Here’s a hint: “charge with” does not equal “convict”. “Charge with” means indictment, it actually implies “proceed to trial”, at which trial the state will have the burden of proof and the officer will be able to avail himself of a capable defense. Wouldn’t have thought i actually needed to explain this to a fellow attorney, but hey, apparently I do.

    But punch that strawman, Dougie! Punch ‘im real good! You show ‘im what you got!

  6. @Rafer Janders:

    And my point is that since the Judge did not have access to all the evidence in this case, then I’m not sure that we should take his determination that there is in fact probable cause for murder at face value. This may only come down to a manslaughter case in the end.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    In the Beaver Creek OH Walmart shooting, some redneck called the cops and reported a black guy waving a rifle and pointing it at people. The cops came charging in and shot him without taking the time to see that he was just standing there idly holding a pellet gun pointed at the floor. No charges were brought. Obvious to you and me apparently isn’t obvious to prosecutors who don’t want to get crosswise with the cops. This prosecutor’s earlier failed prosecution of a cop smelled like it was designed to fail.

  8. Gustopher says:

    As we have seen in Baltimore, the only way the community can get the prosecutor to act in a police misconduct case is by burning down a CVS. I’m sure Cleveland has a variety of CVS franchises to choose from.

  9. First of all, the fact that the Cuyahoga prosecutor just finished a trial against a cop would seem to belie your point.

    Second, the only thing the riots in Baltimore accomplished was to make a very, very bad neighborhood even worse.

    Third, advocating violence is a comment policy violation. Please don’t do it again.

  10. Bob @ Youngstown says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Doug, that was an uncalled for snark.

    RJ said nothing about a trial, only that based on the evidence available to the public at this time, he would/should expect to be charged.

  11. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And my point is that since the Judge did not have access to all the evidence in this case, then I’m not sure that we should take his determination that there is in fact probable cause for murder at face value.

    If that was your point, then your writing ability is as poor as your reading comprehension, because that’s not actually what you wrote at all. But hey, maybe I should just take your word for it instead of actually, you know, reading the black and white words you wrote?

    And in fact the judge did have access to the available evidence, in the form of (a) the videotape, (b) eyewitnesses, (c) the policemens’ own official reports, and (d) the dead body of a twelve year old boy. If Loehman wants the judge to weigh his testimony, then he’s free at any point to break his silence. But the fact that he’s invoking his Fifth Amendment rights is not in itself a bar to prosecution; if he does not want to make his testimony available then it won’t be taken into account.

    This may only come down to a manslaughter case in the end.

    Which it may, but which, again, has nothing whatosever to do with your extremely dishonest and deliberate mischaracterization of my remarks.

    You lied. You were wrote something stupid and dishonest. No matter how much you try to walk it back now, the words are still up there to read.

  12. Davebo says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    What evidence beyond the eye witness testimony and video tape is available?

    The officers testimony? We both know he’s not talking.

    The result of the Sherrif Dept’s “investigation”? An investigation that, by the way, didn’t begin until almost three months after the incident occurred. That’s a joke! Six months after the shooting, while the sheriff’s department announced that it had almost concluded its investigation of the shooting, neither of the two officers involved had yet been interviewed by investigators from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office according to one report.

    So given the authorities blatantly obvious attempt to “wait it out” and the prosecutors pathetic willingness to help with that effort one Judge stated the obvious.

    From start to finish the entire fiasco has been criminally mishandled. Some one should be facing charges for that beyond the cold blooded murder itself.

  13. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Gee by your logic, why don’t we just skip the trial altogether and hang the officer in Public Square at Noon?”

    Stop f*cking lying, Doug. Their statements are very clear – for anybody but a police officer, there’d have been a completed investigation, a trial, a guilty verdict and sentence handed down long ago.

    No lynching advocated.

  14. Paul L. says:

    Only Law Enforcement should determine if charges should be filed.

    The police union, shockingly, isn’t impressed with this initiative (Trigger Warning: Insufferable irony ahead).

    Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association called the move a dangerous and selfish attempt to “hijack rule of law.”

    “It is very sad how miserable the lives of these self appointed activists, civil rights leaders, and clergy must be,” Loomis said. “I can’t imagine being so very consumed with anger and hatred.”

    I won’t even swing at this softball, as it’s beneath me. But if the best Loomis could come up with is “hijacking the law” when they’ve done exactly the opposite, his Glock is unloaded.

  15. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “And my point is that since the Judge did not have access to all the evidence in this case, then I’m not sure that we should take his determination that there is in fact probable cause for murder at face value. This may only come down to a manslaughter case in the end.”

    Again, you’re lying. The judge only needs enough facts to decide if charging is called for. That’s why there’s a thing called a ‘trial’.

  16. Paul L. says:

    @Davebo:

    The officers testimony? We both know he’s not talking.

    Wonder why since his Police report does not match the video.

  17. @Rafer Janders:

    You seem to think that an incomplete proceeding based solely on a couple witness statements and a videotape suffices for a complete investigation. I, and I dare say anyone with training in the law would say the same thing, disagree.

    And did you, or anyone else who has spent the last ten comments going apoplectic over one sentence, bother to read the rest of the post where I said it was appropriate for charges to be brought against this officer? All I am saying is that I’m not certain that murder is appropriate, and I don’t believe that one hearing based on incomplete evidence can answer the probable cause question.

  18. MikeSJ says:

    I don’t understand the hysteria here. The facts are in front of a Grand Jury. They decide if there’s enough evidence to proceed.

    The mob doesn’t get a say in the matter. Sorry but trial by internet isn’t how it works here.

    I would be very surprised if the policeman ever gets charged for the simple matter is all he needs to say is the child reached for a gun and he had a split second to respond.

    Now that may not be true at all but the prosecutor has to actually prove that it isn’t true.

    You know, that whole innocent until proven guilty thing? Also that beyond a reasonable doubt thing?

  19. Gustopher says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I was thinking more of an orderly sacrifice of a CVS, rather than uncontrolled riots and violence.

    The prosecutors have dragged their feet basically forever on this, and it is clear that they are hoping to drag it out until people lose interest. There every little pressure that can be applied by the community that hasn’t already failed. Any non-cop who shot someone in circumstances like this would be facing prosecution by now.

    On the other hand, rioting seems to have only minimal effect at a terrible cost. And, when justice is flagrantly denied, we see that this does often lead to riots and violence. No one wants a repeat of Baltimore or Ferguson.

    So, a middle ground is needed. Perhaps the orderly and controlled destruction of a symbolic piece of property would work — strive to find a middle ground solution between the completely ineffective and the completely destructive.

    Either that or a march featuring open-carry of weapons, but that could get out of hand.

  20. Davebo says:

    @MikeSJ:

    So it’s purely a coincidence that the DA presented it to a grand jury on the very day Judge Ronald Adrine made his ruling?

    Would it be before the Grand Jury absent that ruling or would the stalling have continued?

    Even Tinkerbell knows that answer to that query.

  21. Davebo says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You seem to think that an incomplete proceeding based solely on a couple witness statements and a videotape suffices for a complete investigation. I, and I dare say anyone with training in the law would say the same thing, disagree.

    Well you kicked that straw man’s ass didn’t you Doug.

  22. @MikeSJ:

    You know, that whole innocent until proven guilty thing? Also that beyond a reasonable doubt thing?

    Oh how silly. We can’t have silly things like that when the mob must be satisfied.

  23. Modulo Myself says:

    @MikeSJ:

    The problem with saying he reached for a gun is that Tamir Rice had a toy gun. In general, you don’t reach for a toy gun. Are we now at the stage where police hallucinations are considered justification for shooting?

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Y

    ou seem to think that an incomplete proceeding based solely on a couple witness statements and a videotape suffices for a complete investigation.

    No, it suffices as grounds to go DO a complete investigation.

    You keep wanting to pretend that the judge declared him guilty. What the judge declared is that there is a legitimate question of guilt, of the kind we generally resolve with a trial. I know you know the difference. You’re wrong on this one, and RJ is right. Get over it.

  25. Modulo Myself says:

    I’m guessing the subset of people who believe that there’s real justification for shooting a 12-year old black kid holding a toy gun intersects with the subset of people who believe there’s no justification for being alarmed at a white man strolling around the mall with a loaded AR-15.

  26. Neil Hudelson says:

    And did you, or anyone else who has spent the last ten comments going apoplectic over one sentence, bother to read the rest of the post where I said it was appropriate for charges to be brought against this officer?

    Apoplectic, like this?

    Gee by your logic, why don’t we just skip the trial altogether and hang the officer in Public Square at Noon?

    And by not “bothering to read,” do you mean like accusing someone of wanting a public lynching, when they were calling for an investigation and trial?

  27. @DrDaveT:

    The Judge found probable cause based on incomplete evidence. That’s why there needs to be a Grand Jury proceeding.

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Are we now at the stage where police hallucinations are considered justification for shooting?

    Yes, and always have been. The pool party cop in TX is in trouble because given the video and the bathing suits, he can’t get away with saying, “She reached for her pocket and I thought she had a gun.”

  29. stonetools says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Indeed. I had to laugh at Gustopher’s suggestion of a bunch of black people peacefully open carrying in Cleveland. Not only would that in itself be considered a riot, but it is quite likely that the police would open fire on them if a demonstrator sneezed or if a car backfired in their vicinity. There are some things that white people can do that sensible black people would never dream of doing.

  30. Blue Galangal says:

    Good God. Don’t make the mistake of reading that comments section. In no particular order, it was all his fault for waving around a gun and for his mother being arrested on drug charges and not raising him properly and not supervising him in the park. That poor officer was in fear of his life every single second of every day Of course black on black crime was mentioned.. One person even maintained that, in the 60s, she and her friends played cops and robbers in the park and if they “ever” pointed a gun at someone, they were “walloped” and sent home. And yes, she goes on to add, her parents were there watching her!

    That’s such a load of bull, I don’t even know where to start. I grew up in the 70s and my parents didn’t even know where we were all summer. (Our parents had better things to do than supervise 10-12 year olds all day every day.) We left the house after breakfast and came home when we heard the dinner bell. One summer we roamed the neighborhood filming an 8 mm Bonnie and Clyde movie. I can guarantee you we were pointing toy guns at each other and – oddly enough – no one ever called the cops on us.

  31. JohnMcC says:

    @Doug Mataconis: How about 11:00am?

  32. MikeSJ says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The problem with saying he reached for a gun is that Tamir Rice had a toy gun. In general, you don’t reach for a toy gun. Are we now at the stage where police hallucinations are considered justification for shooting?

    You as prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Tamir RIce did not reach for the gun (and some toy guns look like toys, some are identical to a real gun).

    If the cop says the child reached for the gun and it looked real, then what? How do you prove otherwise unless you have clear video?

    I think body camera’s on police should be required for this reason but lacking that I don’t see how you can prosecute this.

  33. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The Judge found probable cause based on incomplete evidence.

    ALL determinations of probable cause are based on incomplete evidence. That’s why we don’t go straight to verdicts and sentencing at that point.

  34. Modulo Myself says:

    @MikeSJ:

    You tear apart the officer’s story. Tamir Rice was not confused about the gun in his hand. He knew it was a toy. Why would he reach for the gun? There’s no answer to that question.

    In a different context, it would be comic to watch people fall over themselves to believe that a kid with a toy gun would have acted like someone who had a real gun.

  35. Paul L. says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    That’s why there needs to be a Grand Jury proceeding.

    Because they are infallible as proven by the Alfred Dewayne Brown case.

    But after a browbeating from a Houston cop who inexplicably served as foreman on the grand jury that indicted Brown, the woman changed her testimony. Grand jury transcripts would later show that during her testimony, the cop/foreman threatened to indict Brown’s girlfriend for perjury and threatened to take away her children.

    Or even better.
    Support the Federal Law Enforcement Bill of Rights.

    11) Police officers should only be tried by a special court composed only of Law Enforcement officers.

  36. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “All I am saying is that I’m not certain that murder is appropriate, and I don’t believe that one hearing based on incomplete evidence can answer the probable cause question.”

    So? Again, please note that a trial will (hopefully) happen. The initial evidence does justify that, and the defense will be allowed to critique that evidence and add whatever they have.

  37. MikeSJ says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    He knew it was a toy. Why would he reach for the gun? There’s no answer to that question.

    There doesn’t need to be an answer. Maybe he was going to put it on the ground? Maybe it was falling out of his pants and he wanted to secure it. Who knows?

    The cop says that’s what he did. Or if he had the gun in his hand the cop states he started to point it. You have to prove that isn’t what happened which is impossible unless you have clear video.

  38. Ben says:

    it’s worth noting that the Judge’s ruling in this proceeding seems to be based almost solely on witness statements from civilians and the videotape. There was apparently no testimony from the officer involved, who would have had the right to remain silent in any case, or from anyone affiliated with the Police Department’s investigation of this matter.

    Police officers (unless they are MPs) are civilians too. Police are not military. Calling non-cops “civilians” is just playing into the police fantasy that they are soldiers fighting and killing a hostile citizenry, rather than public servants charged with our protection.

  39. Modulo Myself says:

    @MikeSJ:

    So the officer’s story is that Tamir Rice reached for the gun and also he had it in his hand and pointed it? I guess there’s no reason for a trial. It’s all cleared up. All of which was processed in the second or two between stopping the car and leaping out shooting.

  40. MikeSJ says:

    I don’t know what the details are of the event. My point is simple. It’s going to be hard to prove the officer wasn’t threatened in some way and that is what caused him to shoot.

    If you can’t prove the policeman wasn’t threatened then you have nothing.

    Trial away but I would be surprised if this even gets past the Grand Jury.

  41. anjin-san says:

    @stonetools:

    Indeed. I had to laugh at Gustopher’s suggestion of a bunch of black people peacefully open carrying in Cleveland.

    Let’s not forget that when black folks started exercising their right to open carry in California in the sixties, Ronald Reagan made that right go away in a hurry.

  42. DrDaveT says:

    @MikeSJ:

    If you can’t prove the policeman wasn’t threatened then you have nothing.

    Normally, I would agree, but I think this particular case has additional factors that might overcome that. I’m thinking specifically of two things:

    1. The timeline — the fact that the police had been on the scene for all of two seconds, and the police were not even out of their car yet, when they shot him.
    2. The post-shooting behavior. It’s one thing to accidentally shoot an unarmed kid. It’s an entirely different thing to shoot an unarmed kid then stand around and let him bleed to death without any first aid or other emergency measures. Oh, and assault his sister in the meantime.

  43. anjin-san says:

    @MikeSJ:

    to be hard to prove the officer wasn’t threatened

    Well, the officer wasn’t, in fact, threatened, we know that for a certainly. He may have imagined himself threatened, but the questions about why they pulled up so close to the young child in question and why they opened fire instantly need to be answered.

  44. anjin-san says:

    @MikeSJ:

    if he had the gun in his hand

    He never had a gun in his hand. If you are interested in an honest discussion, please stop saying he did.

  45. anjin-san says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Gee by your logic, why don’t we just skip the trial altogether and hang the officer in Public Square at Noon?

    Seriously Doug, we have Jenos for this…

  46. MikeSJ says:

    @anjin-san:

    I don’t know if he had the gun in his hand or waistband or wherever. Hence the usage of “if”

    The officer will state he mistook a toy gun for a real gun. Can a prosecutor prove otherwise?

    The officer will state the child in some way acted to make him think he was going to be in danger and fired as a result. Can a prosecutor prove otherwise?

    I will be surprised if this gets any further than the grand jury for these reasons.

    The post shooting behavior is another story entirely; what are the correct procedures and how did they deviate from them?

  47. @Barry:

    You do realize that this action by the Judge has almost no legal effect, right? The prosecutor says he still intends to go through the Grand Jury and there doesn’t appear to be anything in the law that would allow the Judge to order him to have this officer arrested and proceed forward with charges.

  48. aFloridian says:

    From the git I’ve been saying the Tamir Rice case is the best case for us to be discussing race in America, perhaps followed closely by that case in North Carolina that shows the willingness for outright fabrication by police, probably occurring thousands of times in the last 300 years.

    The Rice case is different from Michael Brown (street tough, bad seed, aggressor), troubled Trayvon (also not a police action), Freddie Gray (drug rap sheet a mile long) and others. The Rice case best exemplifies the point I’ve been trying to beat into the heads of friends and coworkers for a year now. White privilege is demonstrated in the Rice killing video. More importantly, implicit bias is demonstrated in this video.

    Because, much clearer than Brown, Gray, et al, most of us, unless patently dishonest, can see race at play here.

    Only the most deluded, self-satisfied white people (of which there are plenty) would truly believe that a white 12 year old would have been wasted by these cops. It’s just so blindingly obvious. Number one, it’s been shown other races have a harder time determining a person of a different race’s age. So these cops, to give them the benefit of the doubt, might have legitimately thought Tamir was not 12-year-old-toy-gun-Tamir but rather scary gold-teeth-doo-rag-saggin’ pants-gangbanging thug Tamir. Number two, does anyone really believe these cops would have been so scared of white-Tamir that they’d have started shooting first. HECK NO! It might have only taken an extra couple of seconds, and in that extra couple of seconds we know the white-Tamir would have received (likely far longer), maybe the police would have noticed “hey, this is a kid with a toy gun, don’t shoot” instead of being so driven by fear of black violence that they failed to assess the situation.

    White-Tamir would have received the white privilege benefit of “I’m sure there’s an explanation for this” or “This is just a punk white kid trying to scare people, not a genuine threat to my life.” But little Tamir didn’t get this.

    This is due to implicit bias. We all have it to some extent. Or at least I do. Although it’s frustrating to admit this to people who find Black Lives Matter offensive and believe the police are fair to all, who then sarcastically respond, “stop trying to say I am as racist as you – I am COLOR-BLIND!”

    Tamir Rice was on the receiving end of a boiling pot of bias, steeped for centuries by slavery, Jim Crow, and the modern media. As others have mention, a white man with a gun on his hip in an open carry state does not automatically receive frightened police calls, although the numbers suggest the white man is more likely to use it on strangers in public, just as, at least in the South, you are much more likely to be the victim of black street crime than white street crime (violent). Not everything is bias, and many stereotypes are rooted in some factual basis, but let’s not pretend we are capable of truly treating everyone as individuals. That’s the first step to saving the next Tamir Rice’s life.

    Police officers (unless they are MPs) are civilians too. Police are not military. Calling non-cops “civilians” is just playing into the police fantasy that they are soldiers fighting and killing a hostile citizenry, rather than public servants charged with our protection.

    Also, this. So much this. I have some facebook friends who even use the term “civilians” with other citizens. Every single cop and guard in America is a civilian unless they are a military MP, etc., or a civilian activated to duty such as National Guard duty.

  49. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “You do realize that this action by the Judge has almost no legal effect, right? The prosecutor says he still intends to go through the Grand Jury and there doesn’t appear to be anything in the law that would allow the Judge to order him to have this officer arrested and proceed forward with charges. ”

    You do realize that this makes your ‘lynching’ analogy even more dishonest?

  50. anjin-san says:

    @MikeSJ:

    There was no gun. He never had one. He had a toy. Referring to “the gun” is patently dishonest.

  51. Rafer Janders says:

    @anjin-san:

    Yes, it approaches Mataconis levels of dishonesty.

  52. MikeSJ says:

    I have referred to the toy gun as a toy and as a gun. Here what a bing search identified as what it looked like:

    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=tamir+rice+gun&view=detailv2&&qpvt=tamir+rice+gun&id=B6A275778C2C4C4DD0CA935DCB64E50120DCD58E&selectedIndex=7&ccid=gW0wYD5%2f&simid=608035312350790371&thid=JN.WM7mSxiwEdvycsSIBxuFJw&ajaxhist=0

    if this is what he had it looks very much like a gun to me. They are identified as toys by an orange cap which was removed.

  53. MikeSJ says:

    You guys seem like you want to pretend he had a red plastic squirt gun.

    If what he had is depicted above accurately I’ll be happy to say “the toy gun that was an exact replica of a real gun”

  54. anjin-san says:

    @MikeSJ:

    If what he had is depicted above accurately I’ll be happy to say “the toy gun that was an exact replica of a real gun”

    That won’t be necessary. You’ve already disqualified yourself from being taken seriously.

  55. MikeSJ says:

    I see – disagreeing with you = “disqualifying”

    I personally find uncalled for animosity to be disqualifying.

  56. anjin-san says:

    @MikeSJ:

    I see – disagreeing with you = “disqualifying”

    No, repeatedly referring to a toy as a gun disqualified you. I realize that simply making up facts is SOP in the Foxvese, but in the real world it is annoying and dishonest.

  57. dennis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m not sure that we should take his determination that there is in fact probable cause for murder at face value. This may only come down to a manslaughter case in the end.

    Doug, I’m just an old Patrol Agent, but isn’t manslaughter simply a lesser degree of murder? I thought murder was defined as the unlawful killing of a human being by another? Is not manslaughter unlawful, or am I confused about terms? I have no problem being taken to school …

  58. dennis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    First of all, the fact that the Cuyahoga prosecutor just finished a trial against a cop would seem to belie your point.

    Second, the only thing the riots in Baltimore accomplished was to make a very, very bad neighborhood even worse.

    Third, advocating violence is a comment policy violation. Please don’t do it again.

    Wow, Doug, really? That’s not your usual dispassionate analysis. Why are you so touchy about this one?

  59. MikeSJ says:

    Just to add to this ridiculous argument:

    From Cleveland.com:
    CLEVELAND, Ohio – In the moments before a Cleveland police officer shot and fatally injured 12-year-old Tamir Rice, police say the child grabbed for a fake weapon designed to look like the real thing.

    Tamir was holding an airsoft-type gun that had its orange safety cap removed when the officer shot him Saturday, according to police.

    Airsoft guns are not designed to kill or seriously injure. The novelty guns shoot small plastic pellets and come in all shapes and sizes, including pistols and rifles, said Chip Hunnicutt, Marketing Manager for Crosman, a New York-based company and one of many manufacturers that produce the guns.

    Crossman even produces a line of zombie-themed airsoft guns.

    As paintball gun games gained popularity in the 1990s, more people asked for realistic-looking weapons to use, Hunnicutt said.

    “Young people who like to play in their back yard,” he said.

    The guns also sell to war re-enactors, law enforcement officials conducting drills and former military personnel. The weapons have grown in popularity in the last 10 years, Hunnicutt said.

    “They’re recreational products. I wouldn’t call it a toy,” Hunnicutt said.

  60. dennis says:

    @MikeSJ:

    . . . police say the child grabbed for a fake weapon designed to look like the real thing.

    Because the police never lie, right, Mike?

  61. Davebo says:

    @MikeSJ:

    police say the child grabbed for a fake weapon designed to look like the real thing.

    So the police say. Let’s just ignore the pesky details like the video that shows the police lied.

    Take a little test. Yell “Put your hands up!” three times as fast as you can.

    Or just say “Hands up!” three times as fast as you can.

    And watch the video. Notice the three or four people hanging out with the child under the pavilion? Wait, me neither…

    Of course that’s just from the initial police report. We don’t know what the cops said under questioning in the investigation. We do however know they had almost six months to decide what story they would tell.

    But again, move along. Nothing to see here.

  62. MikeSJ says:

    If the prosecutor can prove that the police had no reason to believe they were in danger then the charges will stick.

    The key word here is prove.

    You are looking for Justice here but it’s not about Justice, its about The Law.

    They are not the same thing.

  63. anjin-san says:

    @MikeSJ:

    “They’re recreational products. I wouldn’t call it a toy,” Hunnicutt said.

    Of course. That’s why they market them to children, who, after all, have a bottomless appetite for “recreational products.”

  64. anjin-san says:

    Second, the only thing the riots in Baltimore accomplished was to make a very, very bad neighborhood even worse.

    Yes, yes. And the Occupy movement did nothing beyond annoying people.

    Back here on planet earth, wealth inequity and police brutality are now right smack in the middle of our national dialog, and they are not going away.

  65. anjin-san says:

    @aFloridian:

    Well said. One of the things that has gotten us to where we are is the widespread perception that black folks are inherently violent. Those kids that tried to protect the girl in the bikini from Eric Casebolt’s assault? He had to pull his gun, they probably wanted to “shank” him. Treyvon Martin? One minute he is buying candy, the next he is taunting George Zimmermann about his impending death. Scratch an African American and you get a violent maniac…

  66. gVOR08 says:

    @aFloridian:

    “stop trying to say I am as racist as you – I am COLOR-BLIND!”

    I have met a lot of people who clearly were racist to one degree or another, some to a fairly great degree. I don’t believe I have ever met anyone, in person or in print/pixels, who regarded themselves as racist.

  67. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    I don’t believe I have ever met anyone, in person or in print/pixels, who regarded themselves as racist.

    Really? I certainly regard myself as racist. I have prejudices and gut reactions that must be consciously overcome. I don’t want to be a racist, so I do try to overcome them. I’ll consider myself to no longer be a racist when I don’t have to try.

  68. Barry says:

    @MikeSJ: “You are looking for Justice here but it’s not about Justice, its about The Law.”

    The Cleveland PD is proof that it’s not about the law at all.