The family of Tamir Rice asked the Justice Department on Friday, April 16, to reopen the investigation into the death of the 12-year-old, who was shot and killed by Cleveland police in 2014. The case was closed during the end of the Trump administration and in late 2020, federal prosecutors said they would not bring charges against the two police officers involved.
The Feds claimed the quality of the video of the shooting was too poor for them to conclusively establish what happened, according to reports from the Associated Press. There were no other prosecutions in the case and in December 2015, a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against the officers.
Rice’s family said in a letter to the Justice Department that it believes Trump officials were not interested in seeking justice for the young boy due to politics that made the case needlessly complicated.
“The truth is this case is tragically simple. Tamir Rice was a boy. On November 22, 2014, he was doing something many boys enjoy – playing with a toy gun in a park near his house,” attorneys for the family wrote in the letter.
Timothy Loehmann, the white officer who fired the fatal shot, was however let go by the police department, though he wasn’t criminally charged.
“I’m still in so much pain because no one has been held accountable for the criminal act that took his life,” Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, said in a statement obtained by the AP. “I’m asking DOJ to reopen the investigation into my son’s case; we need an indictment and conviction for Tamir’s death.”
Rice was playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center in Cleveland, Ohio on Nov. 22, 2014, when he was shot and killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann seconds after Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, arrived.
The officers had been dispatched to the location after a man drinking beer and waiting for a bus called 911 to report that a “guy” was pointing a gun at people. The caller told a 911 dispatcher that it was probably a juvenile and the gun might be “fake,” though that information was apparently never relayed to the officers.