The decision drew calls on social media for protests around the
country and a special prosecutor days after another fatal shooting
by Chicago police of two black residents increased pressure on that
department and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The Ohio grand jury had heard weeks of testimony on the Rice
shooting, which occurred within seconds after police reached a park
next to a Cleveland recreation center in response to reports of a
suspect with a gun. Rice died the next day.
The shooting was one of several that have fueled scrutiny of police
use of deadly force, particularly against minorities. The officers
are white and Rice was black.
Rice was holding a replica handgun when Officer Timothy Loehmann
shot him within seconds of reaching the park in a squad car driven
by his partner, Frank Garmback.
"Simply put, given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes and
miscommunications by all involved that day, the evidence did not
indicate criminal conduct by police," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim
McGinty told a news conference.
Police radio personnel gave officers a description of the suspect's
clothing but did not convey that a 911 caller had said the suspect
was probably a juvenile and the gun may not be real. Those errors
"were substantial contributing factors to the tragic outcome,"
On Monday evening, two dozen protesters escorted by police cars
walked 3 miles (5 km) in freezing rain from the recreation center to
the station where the officers were assigned chanting, "Indict,
convict and send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is
guilty as hell."
A notice taped to the door said the station was closed.
"This is ridiculous," Terri Tolefree said of the grand jury
decision. "This country is so backward."
Later, a dozen people held hands and prayed in a gazebo at the park
where Rice was shot.
Rice's family has filed a civil lawsuit over his death. It also
demanded the officers be charged, a special prosecutor handle the
case and the U.S. Justice Department investigate.
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"Tamir's family is saddened and disappointed by this outcome – but
not surprised," family attorneys said in a statement.
The Justice Department and FBI have been monitoring the
investigation and will continue an independent review of Rice's
death, a spokesman said.
McGinty said an enhanced security camera video showed Rice was
reaching for the gun, which shoots plastic pellets, when the squad
car pulled up next to him.
In a statement to the grand jury, Loehmann said he yelled for Rice
to show his hands and saw him pull a gun from his waistband before
the officer fired. Loehmann and Garmback also said they were
concerned the armed suspect might enter the recreation center.
The officers have been on restricted duty since the shooting and
will remain so through an administrative review, police said.
Rice either intended to hand over the gun or show the officers it
was not real, McGinty said, "but there was no way for the officers
to know that."
The Airsoft replica of a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun usually
has an orange tip on it, but Rice's gun did not. Prosecutors showed
a standard handgun side-by-side with a replica at the news
McGinty also called on makers of replica guns to do more to make
them easier to distinguish from actual firearms.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Writing by David Bailey and Jon
Herskovitz; Editing by Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman)
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