Justice Department won't charge Cleveland officers in 2014 shooting of Tamir Rice

A protester holds up a photo of Tamir Rice.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division announced Tuesday that no federal criminal charges will be filed against two Cleveland police officers involved in the 2014 killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Rice, a Black youth, was shot and killed by rookie Officer Timothy Loehmann. A bystander had called 911 to say they saw a person in a playground with a gun, but told the dispatcher it appeared to be a juvenile and the gun might be a toy. This information was not relayed to Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, and within seconds of arriving on the scene, Loehmann jumped out of the police car and fired twice at Rice. Rice had been playing with an Airsoft gun that did not have the orange tip on the barrel to show it is a toy.

The Justice Department said surveillance video of the shooting was of such poor quality investigators were unable to definitively determine what Rice was doing and if he was reaching for his toy gun before he was shot. Rice's death was "tragic," the department said in a statement, but because there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove that either officer willfully broke the law, "both the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office concluded that this matter is not a prosecutable violation of the federal statutes."

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Loehmann was fired by Cleveland Police in 2017 for lying on his application to join the force. Prior to coming to Cleveland, Loehmann briefly worked at the Independence Police Department in Independence, Ohio, where supervisors determined he had "an inability to emotionally function" and was unfit to be an officer.

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