Washington (Associated Press)-The Justice Department announced on Tuesday that it would not file federal criminal charges against two Cleveland police officers in the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, saying that the quality of the video of the shooting was too poor for prosecutors. accept. Finally determine what happened.
At the conclusion of the case, the department concluded a long-term investigation into a high-profile shooting incident that helped stimulate the black life matter movement and became a national dialogue on police use of force against ethnic minorities, including children. Part. The decision revealed in a lengthy statement did not condone the officers’ actions, but said the accumulated evidence was insufficient to support the federal criminal civil rights prosecution.
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In order to file federal civil rights charges in such situations, the Justice Department must prove that the officer’s actions were deliberately violated the law and not caused by error, negligence, or misjudgment. Federal prosecutors meeting between Democratic and Republican governments have been a daunting burden, and the Justice Department has reduced criminal charges against police in other high-profile cases in recent years, including in New York City Eric Garner (Eric Garner) The death of Michael Brown was in Ferguson, Missouri.
Subodh Chandra, a lawyer for the boy’s family, said in a statement that the Department of Justice’s procedures were “contaminated” and the family had asked the prosecutor to provide more information about the recommendations made during the investigation. .
Chandra said: “It is incomprehensible that the Department of Defense could not recognize an officer who claimed that he was yelling when the windows of the patrol car were closed and it was a winter day.” Deceived by procedures.”
The Ministry of Justice stated that in this case, poor quality surveillance video recorded in the shooting area prevented prosecutors from determining whether Rice reached out for a toy gun before shooting. The two officers who were shot told the authorities shortly after the shooting that Rice was picking up his toy weapon before being shot and was given multiple orders to show his hand.
However, the video reviewed by federal prosecutors made the sequence of events less clear. The prosecutor said that the granular time-lapse video without audio “showed no details or perspective view” and the camera’s view was blocked by a police patrol car. They also said that although the boy’s arm position indicated that they were near his waist, “his hand is not visible in the video, and it is impossible to determine what he is doing from the video.”
The Ministry of Justice said there were seven experts who used force, three of which were kept by the family and four by the local authorities. They reviewed the video, but the video they relied on was of poor quality and “controversial views This does not help much.” The expert used by the family said the shooting was unreasonable, while the other four people thought it was reasonable.
The New York Times reported in October that the department had effectively closed the investigation, but Tuesday’s announcement made it official.
The Department of Justice stated that inconsistent witness testimony also complicates any prosecution, and no one said they saw exactly what Rice did before the shooting.
The prosecutor said that in the statement made to three other law enforcement officers at the scene, Leman “repeatedly and consistently stated” that Tamir had reached out for his gun before shooting him.
Both Loehmann and Garmback stated in their statements after the shooting that Loehmann had given Tamir “raise your hand before shooting,” and both officers saw him reach for a weapon. Prosecutors said Loehmann and Garmback were the only two witnesses “near the shooting.”
A state grand jury refused to sue Loehmann, although he was later dismissed after discovering that he was previously deemed “unfit for a position.”
The Ministry of Justice also investigated whether these officials obstructed justice in statements to other investigators shortly after the shooting. The prosecutor concluded that although these statements included some different languages, they were generally consistent. And because there is insufficient evidence to prove that the statement is untrue, there is also insufficient evidence to prove that these officials tried to mislead investigators or hinder the investigation of their actions.
Associated Press reporter Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed to this report.