Two independent reports submitted to the Ohio prosecutor’s office on the death of 12 year-old Tamir Rice found the shooting by a Cleveland police officer justified.
Released Saturday night by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, the two separate reports filed by a retired FBI agent and a Denver prosecutor both found that the patrolman who fatally shot Tamir on November 22 last year utilized reasonable force because the officer had reason to believe the boy posed a serious threat.
In a 911 call, Tamir is described as a man waving and pointing a gun. Police have stated Tamir was shot moments after the patrolmen pulled up to the boy at a public park — after he allegedly refused to put his hands up for police, and instead reached for his waistband. The gun was later identified as an airsoft pellet gun.
Subodh Chandra, a lawyer representing Rice's family, called the reports a "whitewash" effort by investigators.
"These supposed "experts" — all pro-police — dodge the simple fact that the officers rushed Tamir and shot him immediately without assessing the situation in the least," Chandra said in a statement. "Reasonable jurors could find that conduct unreasonable."
The reports, which only probed the constitutionality of the use of force, and were authored by experts in Fourth Amendment rights, have been submitted to a grand jury as further evidence that will help determine whether Timothy Loehmann faces criminal charges.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said he commissioned and released the reports in the interest of transparency.
Retired FBI special agent Kimberly A. Crawford said first-year patrolman Loehmann had to make a "split-second" decision to use deadly force, Reuters reports.
"Loehmann's attention would be focused on Rice's hands as they moved towards his waist band and lifted his jacket. Unquestionably, the actions of Rice could reasonably be perceived as a serious threat to Officer Loehmann," Ms. Crawford wrote.
"It is my conclusion that Officer Loehmann's use of deadly force falls within the realm of reasonableness under the dictates of the Fourth Amendment," Crawford wrote.
The report from S. Lamar Sims, senior chief deputy district attorney in Denver, cited the video of Loehmann exiting his patrol car quickly and ducking for cover, which the Denver DA interpreted as reacting to an imminent threat.
"The officers did not create the violent situation — they were responding to a situation fraught with the potential for violence to citizens," Mr. Sims wrote in his report.
"We are not reaching any conclusions from these reports," Mr. McGinty, the prosecutor, said in a statement. "The gathering of evidence continues, and the grand jury will evaluate it all."
The reports come as trial preparations begin in Baltimore, Md. in the case of Freddie Gray, who died while in the custody of Baltimore Police last April, triggering massive protests in the city. Six Baltimore officers have been charged in Mr. Gray's arrest and death. The first trial — of Officer William Porter — is scheduled to begin Nov. 30.