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No Indictment of Police in Tamir Rice Shooting

No Indictment of Police in Tamir Rice Shooting

After multiple independent reviews and investigations, politically charged case may be over.

Today, a Cleveland grand jury declined to indict two Cleveland Police Department officers over the November 2014 killing of Tamir Rice, as reported by ClickOnDetroit.  We’ve posted repeatedly on the shooting of 12-year-old Rice by Cleveland police officers, including:

VIDEO: Shooting of Tamir Rice by Police Goes to Grand Jury (6/4/2015)

Cleveland Tries Out Baltimore Justice, Ignores Facts in Tamir Rice Shooting (6/11/2015)

Two Independent Reviews: Shooting of Tamir Rice “Reasonable” (10/11/2015)

The shooting was caught on surveillance camera, and presented what to us certainly appeared to be a pretty open-and-shut case of a justifiable use of force.

Tamir Rice, who while only 12 years old weighed a whopping 195 pounds (see autopsy report embedded at bottom of this post), was the subject of 911 cals reporting he was pointing an apparent gun at people.  (The gun would later turn out to be a pellet gun rather than a firearm.)  A patrol cars with two officers pulled up rapidly to Rice’s location, at which point Rice clearly reaches for the “gun” in his waistband. The officers respond to this reasonably perceived threat of deadly force by shooting and killing Rice.  (One of the 911 callers had reportedly told the operator that the gun appeared to be a fake, but this information was not passed on to the responding officers, who necessarily assumed the “gun” to be real.)

That video can be viewed here:

Immediately after the shooting the matter was removed form the purview of the Cleveland Police Department and placed into the hands of the independent Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s investigative unit.  After six months of investigation, they concluded there was no legal basis to bring charges against the officers.

Then things went sideways a bit, when community activists employed a rarely used Ohio procedural law that allowed anyone claiming “knowledge of the facts” of a case to request a judge to find probable cause of a crime. (There was, in fact, no indication that those seeking such a finding of probable cause possessed any particular knowledge not generally known to the public and investigators.) They convinced self-described activist Judge Ronald B. Adrine to issue a court order finding probable cause for a whole raft of charges against both officers, putting the matter in the hands of a grand jury.

In the meantime, two independent reviews of the case found no legal basis for criminal charges against the officers.

Finally, now the grand jury has now returned no true bill on the charges.

This would seem to be the end of the line for the Tamir Rice matter, but should something new arise you can be sure we’ll cover it here.

And here’s that autopsy report:

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of blogging, books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.
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I said this when the video first broke.

It DOESN’T MATTER whether it was a firearm, a pellet gun or a freaking squirt gun, whether you’re 12, 20 or a senior freaking citizen.

If police point guns at you and tell you to freeze, and you respond by reaching for something that looks like a gun YOU ARE GOING TO GET SHOT.

The so-called black community needs to stop canonizing thug criminals, it makes it much less likely that people are going to listen to them if they happen to stumble upon legitimate grievances.

Somewhat OT: Sarah Hoyt’s blog accordingtohoyt had a post today about the new open carry law here in TX; gave you a recommendation and linked to your Texas course.

    Oh, no kidding? I like her stuff over at Instapundit, enjoyed her blog a few times from links over from there. I’ll have to drop her a thank you. Appreciate the heads up.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

When I first heard about this story, I couldn’t help but wonder: couldn’t there be some sort of police policy that would have prevented this death from happening? I don’t like to see police shootings any more than the next guy, so if such a policy is possible, then it should be followed.

Having said that, the kid was playing a very stupid game. He was popping out of bushes with something a reasonable person could conclude was a firearm. Under such circumstances, it’s not very difficult to imagine the kid getting shot by someone carrying his own pistol. And it would be a completely, 100% justified shooting. Play stupid games, and you can sometimes get very severe stupid prizes!

Which leads me to wonder: how can we make sure that 12-year-olds (heck, even 6-year-olds) know that you don’t mess with lethal force? That even pretending to use lethal force, if not done in the context of training (where everyone knows what’s going on) can get you killed?

It would seem to me that, in this case, answering this question will save more lives, than trying to gin up concerns about police brutality (as much as I’m concerned about police brutality…).

    Sharpshooter in reply to snowfarthing. | December 29, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    how can we make sure that 12-year-olds (heck, even 6-year-olds) know that you don’t mess with lethal force?

    Maybe we could raise kids the way our parents did a half century ago?

“Which leads me to wonder: how can we make sure that 12-year-olds (heck, even 6-year-olds) know that you don’t mess with lethal force? That even pretending to use lethal force, if not done in the context of training (where everyone knows what’s going on) can get you killed?”

Mostly, that’s what fathers are supposed to do.

Haven’t heard a word yet about where Rice’s dad was.


–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

“Wow, I am really surprised by this” said no one.

While tragic it was a good shoot, the video proved it was a good shoot from the start.

But worry not, just like the other major cities I am sure that Cleveland will pay a huge sum of money to the family for no apparent reason.

12 years old is old enough to know better. If a 12 year old doesn’t, he is either slow or the parents are defective.

Of course, any fool with months to sit and ponder the situation may find fault with the cops, but if you were there and the guy reaches for the gun, you’d be praying the cops shot first.

As I predicted. Business as usual.
On another note,

Elaine Rothenberg a 55 yr old white woman drove from North Carolina to Connecticut. Pointed a realistic looking Beretta 92 style bb gun at civilians in front of a Connecticut police station. Cops responded. She pointed the realistic looking Beretta 92 bb gun at cops. While saying “Shoot me. I hate cops.”
Elaine wasn’t harmed. Elaine will have her day in court.

And justice for all.

    On the one hand, this is one of the reasons I wonder what the police could have done differently to prevent the shooting of Tamir Rice.

    On the other hand, I’d also be interested to know if there were particular reasons that the police had, that convinced them that they really weren’t in danger from Elaine. Perhaps something as simple as pointing the gun and saying “Shoot me! I hate cops!” convinced them that she was bluffing.

    Having said that, if Elaine had been shot in that instance, I find it difficult to believe that most people here would consider it cold-blooded murder: it’s quite likely that it would have been considered just as much a justifiable shooting as Tamir’s shooting was.

    For the record, there was a case in Utah some time ago where a white guy was shot and killed for pointing an airsoft AR-15 at police. But at this point, we’re just trading anecdotes…

    (As much as I consider anecdotes to be important–they can help us understand the statistics we’re trying to decipher–we would do well to remember that the plural of anecdote is not “data”!)

      Gremlin1974 in reply to snowfarthing. | December 28, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      Don’t pay to much attention to M1 he is just our resident representative of the administration (i.e. Race baiting troll who still lives in his mom’s basement, helps with laundry, and gets miffed when he has to interrupt his current session of animated porn to come here and troll.)

      But we have come to love him, kind of like that stray that you feed from time to time.

    ConradCA in reply to m1. | December 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    There was a white guy at a Halloween party who pointed his fake gun at an officer and was killed by the officer a few years ago.

    Milhouse in reply to m1. | December 28, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    As far as I can tell from the news reports, it appears that no policeman was in immediate danger, so there was no need to shoot her. She positioned herself at the employee entrance to the police station, ready to (pretend to) shoot anyone who came in or out, but the police were alerted to her presence there so nobody did. Thus they were able to safely talk to her until she dropped the gun and surrendered. If a policeman had inadvertently come onto the scene and appeared to be in danger, or if she had attempted to escape, she would surely have been shot.

    Sharpshooter in reply to m1. | December 29, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Cite, SFB’s.

As many of us have noted, this was not a criminal matter.

It WAS a matter of terrible, awful, really bad police tactics.

If I were anywhere in the training or supervisory cadre in that department, that video would have had me awake many, many nights.

When you look at this tragic incident, all of the facts just leave you shaking your head about how one slight difference might have changed the outcome.

Tamir Rice had borrowed the airsoft pistol from a friend that morning. The friend warned him to be careful, because it looked like a real gun.

Tamir Rice then spent the hours before the shooting, repeatedly pulling the gun out of his pants and pointing it at other people in the recreation center, sometimes at close range. A witness who had been standing with Rice earlier in the day told authorities that Rice was pulling the gun out “like robbers do.”

A man waiting for a bus outside the recreation center called 911 to report that a man was waving a gun and pointing it at people.The man told the 911 operator that the person holding the gun was likely a juvenile and that the gun probably wasn’t real. The operator never passed that information to the dispatcher who gave Loehmann and Garmback the high-priority call.

When the Police cruiser arrived, the vehicle drove up into the park and skidded on wet grass, stopping within feet of Rice. The driver, who did not shoot Rice, meant to stop further away, but was unable to because of the wet grass and snow.

When the officers arrived, Tamir Rice moved towards the officers and reached towards his waistband. Enhanced stills of the video show that Rice was pulling the “gun” out of his waistband.

In an aviation accident there is usually a “chain of events”, sometimes referred to as an accident or incident chain which leads to the event. If just one of the incidents had not occurred, the incident would not have occurred. This event seems similar.

    Sharpshooter in reply to CalFed. | December 29, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    “The man told the 911 operator that the person holding the gun was likely a juvenile and that the gun probably wasn’t real. The operator never passed that information to the dispatcher who gave Loehmann and Garmback the high-priority call.”

    That’s for officers on the scene to decide (real gun or not), not often clueless civilians, operators, or dispatchers.

    nivico in reply to CalFed. | December 30, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    “Tamir Rice had borrowed the airsoft pistol from a friend that morning.”

    There were actually conflicting accounts regarding where the gun came from… Tamir told someone that the gun belonged to his mother and that they had several more at home.

Bad tactics, good shoot.
That’s the call my SIL made, who is a cop.
Squad car should have been stopped much farther away, which would have reduced the immediate conflict intensity.
One for the training reel.
Very sad.

    CalFed in reply to Twanger. | December 28, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    “Squad car should have been stopped much farther away”

    Garmback (the driver) says that he intended to stop further away from Rice, but the cruiser skidded on the snowy, wet grass.

I guess you down-thumbers would like the prospect of burying two of your officers the next week, had the gun been real.


.The man told the 911 operator that the person holding the gun was likely a juvenile and that the gun probably wasn’t real. The operator never passed that information to the dispatcher

The suspect’s age was irrelevant, so I’m not sure that the operator was wrong not to pass this speculation on to the dispatcher. The caller’s speculation that the gun might not be real was relevant, and should have been passed on to the dispatcher and then to the police, but only as something to be aware of in the background; unless and until it was confirmed by some concrete evidence they had to assume the gun was real.

For bad parenting , Im sure they will get millions. Why can’t the people in power just tell the truth ,everyone with any sense knows not to have a child play with a gun that looks real.

    Heck, when I was 12 I HAD a REAL gun–Marlin 22LR, and many bricks of ammo, and free to take it out to use as I wished. But I wasn’t living in an urban center, but rather many hundreds of acres of Florida scrub. AND I certainly knew I was handling a deadly weapon.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | December 28, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      I got mine when I was eight. I was cut lose to kill every rabbit I could hit in the California hills near Lebec. And I hit quite a few. Ground squirrels, too.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | December 30, 2015 at 7:43 pm

        .22 rifle at 10, .410 shotgun (single shot) at 12, .22 single action revolver at around 13 (though I had to have permission to take it out with me), 12 ga. Shotgun Pump action at 14, then the coolness, the ultimate, Grandpa gave me his Marlin lever action 30/30 with 4x scope. No game in seasons was safe from me, lol.

          Marlin 336? That was my first “real” rifle, too. My dad’s. (And, thank God, without that horrible cross-bolt safety they’ve installed in newer versions.)

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Gremlin1974. | December 30, 2015 at 7:49 pm

          @ Andrew

          That’s the one, they put a 3-9x scope on them now but I liked grandpas 4x. Side loading tube magazine with a spring that would shoot the shell right back out if you didn’t get it all the way past the lip, lol.

      Sharpshooter in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 5, 2016 at 4:50 am

      Likewise, a Marlin Model 60!

      a box of 50 rounds (Remington or Winchester) was 60 cents (1968).

This case was a tragedy, but it was not a crime.

Lucien Cordier | December 29, 2015 at 7:25 am


FOX8 Cleveland:
No justice, no LeBron: Tamir Rice supporters call on James to sit out

buckeyeminuteman | December 29, 2015 at 9:55 am

A pellet gun shot to the face would certainly qualify as bodily harm. The police acted appropriately by neutralizing the threat as quickly as possible.

I keep hearing that people say the kid only had a pellet gun. Only?? I have pellet guns and they have a force like a 22. They are potentially dangerous and can kill. But what the heck is a kid doing by himself going around pointing a gun of any kind at people?? Certainly if he has some other kids with him and they are playing cowboys and Indians, then fine, leave them alone, although they would be arrested for playing that game as well. But to say the kid was innocent, give me a break.

If you look at the Google Earth view of the location, the playground is on Marion C. Seltzer Elementary School property…

…long story short, the police were responding to an armed gunman on an elementary school playground who was pointing a weapon at children passing by.

Not exactly a ‘wait n see’ situation… they police needed to act swiftly to eliminate the threat.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to nivico. | December 30, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I think I read that the cop who was driving said that he tried to stop further away but the car slid on the snow and ice, which it does seem to do from the video.

      Char Char Binks in reply to Gremlin1974. | January 1, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      I wonder if he was from some place where there isn’t much snow, and wasn’t used to those driving conditions. I suppose he wanted to use the car as cover, and that makes sense, but maybe driving up on the wet, snowy grass next to the gazebo was a bad idea.