More than six months after twelve year old Tamir Rice was gunned down by Officer Timothy Loehmann, the investigation drags on while Loehmann and his partner Frank Garmback are still on the job. The Sheriff’s office spent five months investigating the incident, and recently handed the case over to Timothy J. McGinty, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, who will review the case, which could take weeks or months. Then, it will be presented to a grand jury. On June 8, tiring of justice delayed, community activists utilized an obscure Ohio law to ask a Cleveland judge to issue an indictment.
It took just days for Judge Ronald B. Adrine to find “probable cause for charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty against Loehmann.” He found “probable cause for charges of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty” against Garmback. But the judge declined to issue a warrant for either officer’s arrest, saying he could not do that without a criminal complaint from the prosecutor.
For two days in a row, June 16 and 17, several activists staged sit-ins at the prosecutor’s office, seeking a meeting and calling on him to arrest the two police officers. At a June 19 press conference at the Cleveland Police Patrolmans’ Association (CPPA), Samira Rice, Tamir’s mother, and his cousin, Latonya Godsby, confronted the the issue of victim blaming by CPPA president Steve Loomis and asked for arrests of the two officers responsible for Tamir’s death. The family was supported by Black Mans Army, Black on Black Crime, Rev. Gary Greer, Don Bryant for the Greater Cleveland Civil and Human Rights Coalition, Rev.com, and other friends and family. On June 20, Tamir’s family and community marked what would have been his 13th birthday with a Community Day of Healing at the Cudell Recreation Center where he played, and was killed.
As part of the event, activist Don Bryant planted a tree at the rec center. “I wanted to do an in-your-face guerilla tree planting in that big open lawn in front of the Injustice Center, with Tamir’s Tree, and Tanisha’s Tree, and Melissa’s Tree, and Timothy’s Tree, and Dan’s Tree, and Brandon’s Tree, and pretty soon we got a forest, “ Bryant explained. “Then, maybe Prosecutor Timothy McGinty will “remember” to issue warrants for the arrests of CPD officers that killed Tamir Rice.”