*Waiting for prosecutors to file charges against the police officers responsible for the death of Tamir Rice is not enough for community leaders in Cleveland, who revealed Monday (June 8) that they would instead invoke a rarely used law as a means to take the case directly to a judge.
The New York Times reports the move, which is being done to request murder charges against the officers, is the latest development in the aftermath of Rice’s death.
In November, the 12-year-old was fatally shot by officer Timothy Loehmannn while he played in a park. The tragedy resulted after officers responded to a 911 caller who reported that Rice was waving a gun that was “probably fake.” Upon arriving on the scene, the officers pulled their car straight into the park, next to Rice. Within two seconds, Loehmann shot Rice in the abdomen from point-blank range. The gun the boy had turned out to be a toy replica of a Colt revolver that fired plastic pellets.
Since the shooting, questions about whether the officers followed procedures and whether they had time to warn Tamir three times to put down the gun, as they said they did, have been raised. Countering those questions are lawyers for the city who have defended the shooting, saying the officers mistook the toy for a real gun.
Although the investigation into the fatal shooting went to county prosecutors last week, the publication references situations involving the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown as reasons why local leaders are skeptical.
“The writing is on the wall,” Walter Madison, a lawyer for Tamir’s family who worked with community leaders as they planned to seek charges, told the Times. “If you look at every other instance, it ends up unfavorable to the families.”
Under Ohio law, anyone with “knowledge of the facts” is allowed to file a court affidavit and ask a judge to issue an arrest warrant. If approved, a public hearing, according to the Times, would follow the arrest.
Despite plans for community leaders to file their request for murder charges in the case on Tuesday morning (June 9), one of them supplied the Times with copies of six affidavits they plan to file, which outline the crimes they say were committed.
Ohio is among a handful of states that allow residents to request an arrest without approval from the police or prosecutors. The Rice case will be one to watch, as there isn’t much precedent regarding a citizen requesting the arrest of a police officer in a case as high-profile as this one.
s citizens,” Madison stated. “We are going to participate without even changing the law.”
For more about the community leaders’ efforts, click here.