Rally condemns lack of charges in Tamir's death

Posted at 7:07 PM, Dec 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-29 23:52:40-05

CINCINNATI -- Standing in a circle, a group of black and white Cincinnatians were united in anger Tuesday night over the lack of charges in the police shooting death Tamir Rice, a Cleveland boy killed while carrying a pellet gun last year.

Black Lives Matter Cincinnati organized the rally at Findlay Playground in Over-the-Rhine. The location was purposeful: Rice, 12, was fatally shot at a playground near his mother's Cleveland home.

A grand jury on Monday declined to indict a white rookie officer, Timothy Loehmann, for killing Tamir, who was black. In explaining the decision, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty said it was "indisputable" that the boy was drawing what turned out to be a pellet gun from his waistband when he was shot. McGinty said Tamir was trying to either hand the weapon over to police or show them it wasn't real, but the officer and his partner had no way of knowing that.

"I don't want to say words don't express, but it's damn frustrating. It's a condemnation of the system in which we live," said Brian Taylor, of Black Lives Matter Cincinnati.

Tamir was shot by Loehmann within two seconds of the officers' police cruiser skidding to a stop near the boy. Loehmann and Garmback were responding to a 911 call about a "guy" pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it at people. Tamir was carrying a borrowed airsoft gun that looks like an actual firearm but shoots nonlethal plastic pellets. It was missing the orange tip that is supposed to show that it's not a real weapon.

The grand jury had been hearing evidence and testimony since mid-October.

In a statement, Tamir's family said it was "saddened and disappointed by this outcome -- but not surprised." It accused the prosecutor of "abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment."

Among other things, the family charged that McGinty improperly hired use-of-force experts to tell the grand jury that Loehmann's actions were reasonable.

The family renewed its request for the Department of Justice to step in and conduct "a real investigation." Federal prosecutors in Cleveland noted Monday that a civil rights investigation into the shooting is already underway.

There was no immediate comment from Loehmann after Monday's decision.

In Cincinnati, Black Lives Matter collected toys to be donated to charity, a nod to the season and the boy's death at a playground.

"These are things that he'll never have to play with," Taylor said. "These are things that his family will never have too bestow upon him."

They also took a list of demands to Cincinnati Police Department headquarters on Ezzard Charles Drive. Among those demands: That officers who shoot should be jailed, fired and prosecuted, and that McGinty be removed from office.

"Police of course have got a hard job, sometimes they need to make quick decisions. But in the case of Cleveland, they definitely did not need to open fire on this young man," protester Thurman Wenzl argued.