Cops Involved in Tamir Rice's Fatal Shooting Will Not Face Federal Criminal Charges, DOJ Says

Protesters demonstrated shortly after 12-year-old Tamir Rice's fatal shooting.
Protesters demonstrated shortly after 12-year-old Tamir Rice's fatal shooting.(Getty)

The video of 12-year-old Tamir Rice's shooting was not enough for prosecutors to establish what had happened, federal attorneys said.

The two Cleveland police officers involved in the 2014 killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice will not face federal criminal charges, the Justice Department said. The Department concluded that there was not enough evidence against former Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann and Officer Frank Garmback to “support federal criminal charges,” according to a statement released Tuesday.

The video of the shooting was central to their decision, the department said, but the footage available was not enough for prosecutors to establish a federal crime.  

"In order to establish a federal civil rights violation, the government would have to prove that Officer Loehmann's actions were unreasonable under the circumstances, and that his actions were willful," according to the statement. "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.”

The department notified the Rice family about the decision Monday followed by a letter explaining the findings of the investigation, according to the statement. Tamir’s mother, Samaria, was grieved and disappointed by the decision, family attorney Jonathan Abady told CNN.

"This case involves the totally unjustified shooting of a 12-year-old child,” Abady said. "And the idea that people would not be held accountable for this is really more than upsetting."

Neither Loehmann or Garmbeck have spoken publicly since the Tuesday decision.

The officers had been responding to a 911 call on Nov. 22, 2014 when they came across young Tamir. The caller said there had been an individual with a gun at the park.

The caller had also told 911 dispatch the person was “probably a juvenile” and the gun was “probably fake,” records show, but the dispatcher never relayed the information to the responding officers, the Associated Press reported.

Within two seconds of arriving on the scene, Loehmann, who is white, fired two bullets into Tamir, NPR reported. Loehmann was in field training, and the patrol car had been driven by Garmback, according to CNN.

Tamir had been holding a toy airsoft pistol at the time of the shooting, and died at the hospital shortly after. His death, along with the fatal police shootings of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri fueled the Black Lives Matter movement of 2014 and 2015.

The Justice Department’s decision comes after a state grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against the two officers in December 2015.

The Rice family was awarded $6 million after the city of Cleveland settled a federal wrongful death lawsuit in April 2016.

Loehmann was fired in 2017, when the Cleveland Police Department said he lied on his job application.