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US Justice Dept. says won't charge officers who fatally shot Black child

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy, was fatally shot by two police officers in 2014. (File photo)

The US Justice Department says it will not charge two white Cleveland police officers who fatally shot Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy, in 2014 because of lack of sufficient evidence to support federal criminal charges against the two officers.

Prosecutors found insufficient evidence to "support federal criminal charges against Cleveland Division of Police (CDP) Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback," the Justice Department said in an announcement on Tuesday.

Video footage of the killing, which occurred in daylight on Nov. 22, 2014, shows the child was shot within two seconds of the police arriving at the scene.

Loehmann, who fired two bullets into Rice, and Garmback claimed they believed he was carrying a gun, while, in fact, the boy was playing with a toy air pellet gun near a playground at a city recreation center.

 The Justice Department said, "It is not enough to show that the officer made a mistake, acted negligently, acted by accident or mistake, or even exercised bad judgment," closing the investigation.

"Although Tamir Rice's death is tragic, the evidence does not meet these substantial evidentiary requirements."

Federal attorneys also said "an officer is permitted to use deadly force where he reasonably believes that the suspect posed an imminent threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others."

City officials said they had found no evidence that the two officers violated procedures. Instead, the two were disciplined for other violations that surfaced during the investigation.

Loehmann was sacked in May 2017, not for the shooting, but because investigators found he did not tell the truth about his employment history when he applied for the job.

Garmback was suspended for 10 days because he broke tactical rules pertaining to how he drove up to the site where Rice was fatally shot that day.

Meanwhile, Subodh Chandra, an attorney for Rice's family, said in a statement, "The Rice family has been cheated of a fair process yet again."

"This case involves the totally unjustified shooting of a 12-year-old child," he told CNN. "This is part of a problem that we've been living with as a society for as long as anyone can remember, that is the unjustified excessive use of force by police officers against people of color."

"And the idea that people would not be held accountable for this is really more than upsetting."

Rice joined Michael Brown and Eric Garner, among others, as a representative of African-American men killed by police violence in cases in which the officers involved were not subsequently charged.


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