Seven months after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by police while he played with a toy gun outside the Cudell Recreation Center, newsnet5 out of Cleveland is reporting that a source familiar with the investigation states that the Cuyahoga Sheriff’s Department has found no evidence of a crime. The findings have been turned over to the Cuyahoga Prosecutor’s office.
The long ordeal, which began with a Cleveland Police Department investigation, ended today shortly after major developments in the city of Cleveland, where Officer Michael Brelo was acquitted in the shooting deaths of an unarmed Black couple, and a settlement was reached by the city with the Justice Department over past police brutality cases.
As in several other notorious cases of police violence against Black people, including Eric Garner and Walter Scott, the shooting of Rice was caught on video. The images show the 12-year-old boy playing by himself outside the rec center on November 22, when a police cruiser suddenly enters the frame. Officer Timothy Loehmann jumps out at close range and immediately guns Rice down, from what is visible:
Even prior to the close of what has been viewed by Tamir Rice’s family as a far too lengthy investigation, the city of Cleveland defended itself from accusations of wrongdoing in the case by laying the blame on the victim, stating “injuries, losses and damages were directly and proximately caused by the acts of the Plaintiff’s decedent (Rice), not this Defendant.”
“Tamir Rice is in the wrong. He’s menacing. He’s 5-feet-7, 191 pounds. He wasn’t that little kid you’re seeing in pictures. He’s a 12-year-old in an adult body,” added Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, in a piece for Politico.
Such characterizations fit in with research that shows white Americans often view Black boys as being older than they are and less innocent than white counterparts, according to the American Psychological Association.
With the report now turned over, the official statement from the Cuyahoga Sheriff’s Department reads:
Today, Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney transmitted the findings of the investigation into the death of Tamir Rice to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. The County Sheriff’s Office performed the investigation at the request of the City of Cleveland. The Sheriff’s Office received the file on February 13, and has performed an extensive, thorough and unbiased investigation. It is now up to the Prosecutor to determine how next to proceed.
“As I stated in my briefing on May 12, 2015,” Sheriff Pinkney said, “my department has been diligently working on the investigation. We have concluded our work and I have turned it over to the Prosecutor who will take it through the next steps.”
It remains to be seen what if anything the prosecutor will do with the receipt of the investigation report, and what if any effect the protests that began in Ferguson and carried forward to Baltimore might have on that decision.