Monday, December 28, 2015

No Charges for Officer in Tamir Rice Shooting

When I was about 9 or 10 years old I had this BB gun that I played with about as much as Ralphie from the Christmas Story, which is to say often.  I ate, drank and slept with this thing.  It was ridiculous, actually, looking back on it now.  In any event, I recall one time when the police came to our neighborhood to settle a dispute between my dad and our neighbor over a parking space on the street.  The whole block came outside to watch, which was the norm whenever the police came to pay any one of us a visit.  At some point during this exchange, my dad called out to me to get the keys to his old beat up hooptie of a car so that he could move it as directed by the officers (as per standard operating procedure in the 'hood, cops never came to the block alone; there were always at least 2 or more).  I ran inside, grabbed the keys, and ran (not walked, ran) back outside to where my dad and the officers were standing and handed my dad the keys to his car.  My dad proceeded to move the car, the neighbor dropped his complaint, and the police officers got back in their car and left.  As I walked back to our place, I became aware for the first time that day that I had my BB gun tucked into my waist the entire time the officers had been there.  That realization still gives me goose bumps as much today as it did back then.  All it would have taken was one wrong glance by the officers or one wrong move by me and I wouldn't be typing this story to you right now.

My point is, kids do dumb stuff.  All the time.  That's what they do.  All I can do is pray to God that when they do said dumb stuff, they don't do it in the presence of today's trigger-happy law enforcement like Tamir Rice did when he was seen walking around outside with a pellet gun.  The cops pulled up and immediately opened fire on Tamir, killing him.  No questions were asked, only shots fired.  The only thing that has become more common than the killing of young black men by the police is the rate at which those same officers are not held responsible for their actions by local prosecutors.

A grand jury in Cleveland has declined to indict a city police officer in the fatal shooting last year of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
The decision by grand jurors on Monday was the end of a lengthy investigation that was criticized by Tamir’s family and by activists, who called the shooting senseless and said the officer should have been charged with murder months ago.
Tamir, who was black, was carrying a replica gun outside a recreation center when someone called 911. The caller cautioned that Tamir was probably a juvenile and that the weapon was “probably fake,” but that information was not relayed to the two officers who responded, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback.
Surveillance video, which has been widely circulated online, showed Officer Garmback pulling the police cruiser within a few feet of Tamir, and Officer Loehmann, who is white, stepping out of the car and almost immediately firing his gun. Tamir died hours later. His partner, Officer Garmback, was also not indicted.
Timothy J. McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, who made the announcement at a news conference, said that while “this was a perfect storm of human error,” the evidence considered by a grand jury over two months “did not constitute criminal action by police.” He noted that the law gives the benefit of the doubt to a police officer “who must make a split second decision.”

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