CLEVELAND (AP) — Prosecutors who recommended bringing no charges against two officers in the shooting of Tamir Rice said they were required to reveal to a grand jury they didn’t think a conviction was possible.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty defended his decisions amid criticism from the boy’s family and community members.
“We knew that ethically there couldn’t be a trial in this case,” McGinty told cleveland.com
McGinty said the Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney’s manual says a prosecutor must tell a grand jury when substantial evidence refutes the guilt of the target in the investigation.
Prosecutors decided they couldn’t get a conviction after seeing enhanced surveillance footage of the shooting, he said.
It showed the 12-year-old black boy was drawing what turned out to be a pellet gun from his waistband when he was shot, McGinty said.
A grand jury announced on Monday that no criminal charges would be brought against the white patrolman who shot Tamir in November 2014.
The grand jury concluded that the officer and his partner reasonably believed that it was a real gun and that their lives were in danger, prosecutors said.
It was “indisputable” that the boy was drawing the pistol from his waistband when he was shot, McGinty said earlier this week. He said Tamir was trying to either hand the weapon over to police or show them it wasn’t real, but the patrolmen had no way of knowing that.
Assistant county prosecutor Matthew Meyer said it also was telling that the pellet gun was found on the ground after the shooting.
“For it to have fallen on the ground, it would have had to have been in Tamir’s hand, which means he would have had to have pulled that gun out,” he said.
Subodh Chandra, an attorney for the Rice family, disputed whether Tamir was taking the gun out of his waistband.
The family also issued a statement accusing the prosecutor of “abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment.”
Two Democratic state lawmakers in Ohio said Wednesday they plan to propose legislation that would require at least two outside law enforcement officials to conduct investigations when a police officer uses deadly force.
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