Cleveland community leaders to ask judge for murder charges in Tamir Rice case

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Activists, civil rights leaders and clergy in Cleveland, Ohio, plan to bypass prosecutors and ask a judge directly for murder charges against the two officers involved in the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

The group plans to use citizens’ affidavits for probable cause, according to a media advisory sent Monday. The affidavits will be filed in Cleveland Municipal Court. Based on those filings, the group will then ask a judge to issue arrest warrants for Cleveland Division of Police Officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann.

A news conference will be held Tuesday in front of the Cuyahoga County Justice Center to explain the strategy and discuss the affidavits.

“We are still waiting for the criminal justice system to enact justice in the name of Tamir Rice,” Rev. Jawanza Colvin, pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, said in a statement. “It has been more than six months since his tragic death and, yet, the people still have no answers and no one has been held accountable.”

The statement went on to say that use of the affidavits amounts to citizens “taking matters into their own hands utilizing the tools of democracy as an instrument of justice.”

The shooting

Rice was shot by Cleveland police on November 22, 2014.

He was in a park near his home playing with a pellet gun. A witness had called 911 and reported “a guy with a pistol.” But the caller added that the weapon was “probably” fake. That information was not relayed to the officers who responded, according to recordings release by law enforcement. Loehmann fired on Rice within two seconds of getting out of his car at the scene.

He died a day later.

The killing sparked outrage across the United States and made international headlines. His mother told CNN, “They never even gave him a chance.”

Rice’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Cleveland. The mayor had to apologize for the wording of the city’s response, which blamed the 12-year-old for his own death.

The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department has completed the police investigation into what happened. The results were handed over to prosecutors last week.

By Kimberly Hutcherson