Despite a "perfect storm of human error," in the shooting death of Tamir Rice, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced Monday that a grand jury has declined to indict officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback.
For the first time, McGinty said that this was also his recommendation.
Speaking at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center at 2 p.m., McGinty called Tamir's death "undeniably tragic."
"But it was not," he said, "by the law that binds us, a crime."
Citing the United States constitution and the "objective reasonableness" standard as established by the U.S. Supreme Court, McGinty said that officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Tamir Rice, had reason to fear for his life at the time of the shooting.
McGinty said that he spoke to Samaria Rice, Tamir's mother, and that she was "pretty torn up" about the decision. However, he said:
"This decision does not mean that the legal system is finished with this case. The civil system may yet give the Rice family some of the accountability they deserve."
McGinty said the implementation of the Consent Decree will help the Cleveland Division of Police move forward in its hiring and training practices. And he called on toy manufacturers everywhere to stop making fake guns look so real.
If the color of Tamir's gun had "screamed toy," McGinty said, the outcome may have been different. McGinty also came down hard on the police dispatcher who failed to relay to officers Loehmann and Garmback that the 9-1-1 caller said Tamir was "probably a juvenile" and the gun was "probably a fake."
Assistant County Prosecutor Matthew Meyer endeavored to explain the full context of the shooting after McGinty spoke, emphasizing once again how realistic Tamir's fake gun looked, and the negligence of the dispatcher. (That appears to be the extent of the "perfect storm of human error" that the prosecutor's office mentioned. Neither McGinty nor Meyer alluded to tactical missteps by Loehmann and Garmback).
Meyer, in fact, said that Garmback and Loehmann did "exactly what we'd expect officers to do" in an active shooter situation.
Subodh Chandra, the local attorney for the Rice family, issued a statement reiterating that McGinty's handling of this case — in particular, the hiring of "experts" to exonerate the officers and not insisting that Loehmann and Garmback submit to questioning after reading their statements to the grand jury — has "compounded the grief" of the family.
"The Rice family is grateful for all the community support they have received and urges people who want to express their disappointment with how Prosecutor McGinty has handled this process to do so peacefully and democratically," Chandra's statement said. "We renew our request that the Department of Justice step in to conduct a real investigation into this tragic shooting of a 12-year-old child."