A police agency investigating the police shooting of unarmed 12-year-old Tamir Rice has concluded the killing was justified, local station NewsNet5 reported today, citing an unnamed source.
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio, which conducted the investigation, failed to find evidence that a crime was committed, the source told NewsNet5.
Tamir was playing at a park near his home with a toy airsoft gun on November 22 when a 911 caller reported a “guy with a pistol” that was most likely fake, the Los Angeles Times reported. The information suggesting his gun was a toy was not relayed to responding officers, who shot and killed him.
The case will now be handed over to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, who will then present evidence to a grand jury, which will then decide whether or not to indict the officers involved.
“The County Sheriff’s Office performed the investigation at the request of the City of Cleveland,” read an official statement. “The Sheriff’s Office received the file on February 13, and has performed an extensive, thorough and unbiased investigation. It is now up to the Prosecutor to determine how next to proceed.”
Tamir’s death occurred during a national outcry and protests over a series of killings by police of black people, including Mike Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York.
Video of his death shows officers driving up within feet of the child and quickly shooting him within seconds of arrival.
The L.A. Times reports it was later revealed the officer who fired the fatal shot, Timothy Loehmann, had been deemed unfit for police work and emotionally unstable by a previous department he worked at.
Extended video footage reported by The Guardian shows Tamir’s sister, Tajai, 14, being pushed to the ground, cuffed and placed in the police car when she tried running to help her brother. Meanwhile officers ignored Tamir, who had been shot. He died the next day.
The public and his family reacted angrily when it was learned the city of Cleveland blamed Tamir for his own death, stating in legal documents his death and the resulting fallout were “directly and proximately caused by the failure of [Tamir] to exercise due care to avoid injury,” the L.A. Times reported.
Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson was forced to apologize in March, calling the statements “insensitive” and promised the city’s filing would be amended.
Tamir’s family has filed a federal lawsuit, which is on hold pending the criminal investigation, NBC News reported.