Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Cleveland Leaders Bypass Prosecutors to Seek Charge in Tamir Rice Case

Tamir Rice, 12, was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer last November. Credit Richardson & Kucharski Co., L.P.A., via Associated Press

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and MATT APUZZO, NYT
JUNE 8, 2015

WASHINGTON — Community leaders in Cleveland, distrustful of the criminal justice system, said Monday that they would not wait for prosecutors to decide whether to file charges against the police officers involved in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice last year. Instead, they will invoke a seldom-used Ohio law and go directly to a judge to request murder charges against the officers.

The highly unusual move is the latest sign that some African-Americans in Cleveland and around the country have lost confidence in a system that they see as too quick to side with police officers accused of using excessive force against blacks.

The investigation into Tamir’s shooting was handed to the county prosecutor last week, but local leaders are skeptical because of how similar cases have ended. In New York, a grand jury did not indict in the death of Eric Garner, who had been put in a chokehold by a police officer. State and federal authorities said there was no evidence to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Last month, prosecutors said a white police officer in Madison, Wis., would not be charged for killing an unarmed 19-year-old man.

“The writing is on the wall,” said a lawyer for Tamir’s family, Walter Madison, who worked with the community leaders as they planned to seek charges. “If you look at every other instance, it ends up unfavorable to the families.”

(More here.)

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