In Cleveland on Friday, anger over the decision not to charge the police officers involved in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice reached the neighborhood of the prosecutor who handled the case.
Holding pictures of Tamir and wearing signs declaring “Fire McGinty”, about 100 protesters marked New Year’s Day by marching to the home of Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty. Once there, they lay prostrate on the sidewalk for four minutes: the time the boy lay unattended after he was shot on 23 November 2014.
The message was clear: McGinty must not be re-elected.
“It’s very important for the community to understand that we are doing a rally cry, and vote McGinty out of office,” said Latonya Goldsby, Tamir’s cousin and the spokesman for his family.
Although the latest round of demonstrations in the Tamir Rice case began just hours after a grand jury’s decision was announced on Monday , McGinty had begun to feel the political backlash about a month before. That was when local Democratic ward members blocked his bid for the party’s endorsement in a March primary.
Goldsby said the family and activists would not endorse McGinty or his opponent. Instead, they would wait for “the people’s candidate” to emerge.
Friday’s rally was organized by Black Lives Matter Cleveland . McGinty was not at home and his office declined to comment.
Tamir Rice has joined Michael Brown and Eric Garner, among others, as a representative of African-American men killed by police violence in cases in which the officers involved were not subsequently charged. Rice was playing with a toy gun in Cudell Park when police officer Timothy Loehmann killed him.
Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback , were responding to a call about a “guy” brandishing a weapon. Although the original 911 call mentioned the suspect was probably a youngster and the weapon was probably a toy, the police dispatcher omitted those details.
The case became a cause célèbre after surveillance video showed that Loehmann shot Tamir less than two seconds after arriving on the scene. The officers maintained Tamir did not obey instructions to raise his hands, and that he seemed to be going for a weapon.
McGinty did not to indict the officers and took almost a year to bring the case to a grand jury. Activists and family lawyers accused him of bias in favour of the officers, and called for a special prosecutor to handle the case.
Those calls grew louder when the prosecutor submitted expert reports that called the shooting “ reasonable ” and allowed police officers to read statements to the grand jury without cross-examination.
At a press conference to announce the grand jury’s decision, McGinty said “ indisputable” evidence supported the officer’s version of the events. After seeing an enhanced version of the surveillance video, he said he could not recommend charging the officers.
He told Cleveland.com : “We knew ethically, there couldn’t be a trial in this case.”
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