Family of Tamir Rice asks DOJ to reopen police shooting investigation into 12-year-old’s murder

Family of Tamir Rice asks DOJ to reopen police shooting investigation into 12-year-old’s murder

As the Derek Chauvin trial continues, across the country deaths of unarmed children, not just adults, due to police brutality are continuing to make headlines. As Americans nationwide mourn the death of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy who was killed in a single shot while holding his arms up, the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was also shot and killed by police in 2014, asked the Justice Department on Friday to reopen the case into his death.

Rice’s case was closed during the Trump administration’s term in office. According to the Associated Press, federal prosecutors said they would not file charges against the two police officers involved because the video quality of the shooting was too “grainy” for them to establish what had happened to gather evidence. While prosecutors attempted to bring the case to a grand jury in 2017, the Justice Department denied the request and ended the investigation years later. Additionally, earlier in December 2015, a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against the officers. No other prosecutions took place in the case. Because the statute of limitations for a federal obstruction of justice charge is five years, the case was closed in 2020.

On the basis that Rice’s death case was closed due to political reasons, the family’s attorneys asked the Justice Department to reopen investigations. “This case involves the unjustified killing of a child and a prosecution that was thwarted through political abuse,” the attorneys wrote in their request. The family and attorneys called for both President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action in addressing the widespread phenomena of racial discrimination noting that Biden and Garland’s appointment have given the family “hope that the chance for accountability is not lost forever.”

Rice was killed on Nov. 22, 2014, when a white officer shot him for playing with a toy pellet gun outside of a recreation center in Cleveland, Ohio. Two officers were present at the scene, Officer Timothy Loehmann, and Officer Frank Garmback, who said they had been dispatched after a drunk man called 911 to say that a “guy” was pointing a gun at people. Reports indicate that the caller told 911 that it was probably a “fake” gun but that information was allegedly never shared with the officers. The attorneys noted that Rice was doing something many boys his age do, playing with a toy gun near his home.

“Tamir would have been 19 years old in June,” Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, said in a statement. “I’m still in so much pain because no one has been held accountable for the criminal act that took his life. I’m asking DOJ to reopen the investigation into my son’s case; we need an indictment and conviction for Tamir’s death.”

In order to bring federal charges to the case, the Justice Department must prove that the officers willingly broke the law and that the shooting was not done as a result of a mistake. When the time came to do this for Rice’s case the Trump administration claimed poor quality surveillance footage prevented them from determining whether or not Rice had been reaching for his toy gun prior to being shot. After the shooting, the officers in question had claimed that Rice was reaching for the toy prior to being shot and was told multiple times to show hands.

However, despite these claims, an attorney working with the Rice family noted that the video quality depicts what is needed for prosecutors to pursue a case. “It is very clear on the most important points,” the attorney, Zoe Salzman, said. “The timing, for one. It shows that Loehmann was primed to shoot within one or two seconds after encountering Rice, and he didn’t pause to investigate.” She also argued that while the officers claimed they told Rice to show his hands, the footage depicted otherwise. Political incentive is why the Justice Department and prosecutors believed the cops without investigating, the family said. Their plea urges the new administration to consider charges against the officers.

“All the Rice family is asking for here is a chance for justice,” Salzman said. “Again and again politics trump justice. All they asked for is an honest investigation and a fair presentation of the evidence to a grand jury.”

Rice’s death follows a number of cases in which police officials have wrongfully shot Black and brown folk. His case has been part of the national conversation against the use of brutal force for people of color especially children for years. The Rice’s family plea comes at a time where America is calling for justice for yet another child killed by the police: Toledo, who had his hands up as Chicago Police shot and killed him.

According to The New York Times, Toledo, a seventh-grader, is said to be the youngest person killed by the police in Illinois in years. Video footage from his murder on March 29 was released this week, during the murder trial of Chauvin, who killed George Floyd last year. In the disturbing footage, Toledo clearly was not holding a gun as officers claimed he was. The incident also follows the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man shot and killed during a traffic stop. 

While our eyes are focused on the #ChauvinTrial, new deaths race to fill up our vision + break our hearts. Unarmed children are not men. Their deaths are never justifiable. And a traffic stop should not be fatal. God grant us mercy until the law gives us justice.

— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) April 16, 2021

Black and brown people, especially children, should not have to fear going about their everyday lives or playing outside due to the injustice actions of those sworn in to protect them. We cannot expect children to train to avoid the cops—out of fear—while playing and must instead hold individuals accountable and ensure this violence does not continue. While no amount of justice can take away from the pain of losing these children, police brutality and racial injustice must end and justice must be served. 

As Congresswoman Cori Bush tweeted: “How many more Black and brown babies have to die before you realize that the policing system is designed to kill us with impunity?”

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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