A Cleveland judge believes there is sufficient evidence to charge two police officers in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, but the final decision on the charges will still fall to the local county prosecutor, who intends to bring the case to a grand jury.
Judge Ronald Adrine found Thursday that there is probable cause to charge Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann with murder, manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty in Rice’s death. The court also found that there was cause to charge officer Frank Garmback with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.
Rice was killed in November 2014 by police responding to a 911 call about someone in a local park with a handgun. Rice, who had only a pellet gun, was shot twice by Loehmann. The 911 caller had indicated that the gun probably wasn’t real.
The judge’s decision comes just days after community activists, tired of waiting for local prosecutors to review Rice’s death, brought their case directly to a judge. Rice’s family said Thursday they were appreciative of the actions of both their attorneys and the judge. “We are grateful that the wheels of justice are starting to turn,” the statement reads.
The prosecutor on the case, however, signaled Thursday that he wasn’t going to be influenced by the judge’s findings.
“This case, as with all other fatal use of deadly force cases involving law enforcement officers, will go to the Grand Jury,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement. “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.”