-Avier Wanjou- Brass-
Its been 8 years since the tragic murder of Tamir Rice at the hands of local Cleveland officials, and sadly neither him nor his family have received the justice they rightfully deserve!
Tamir was only 12-years-old at the time when he was shot to death by Police, outside a recreation center, while playing with a pellet gun. One of the officers was suspended, while the other was fired– yet neither one has faced criminal charges.
In a recently issued update, The U.S. Justice Department has declined to reopen the federal probe into his death. Samaria Rice, Tamir Rice’s mother, learned of the news after participating in a training event for prosecutors on investigating police misconduct reports The Root.
This new information comes after Ahmaud Arberys’s family was frustrated at the Justice Department for proposing an agreement with Travis and Greg McMichael, the men convicted for murdering Ahmaud, resulting in not having a federal criminal trial. But it was denied by a federal judge.
From the Associated Press/The Root: Attorneys for Tamir’s mother Samaria sent four letters to top officials in the Justice Department and met with them last October in hsope of renewing federal interest in her son’s tragic death, and again in December. One of the letters was signed by 50 scholars on constitutional, criminal, and civil rights law who wrote that they believed the case must be scrutinized.
Kristin Clarke, the head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, wrote that the 2020 decision not to charge the officers stood. She said in her letter to Tamir’s family that “by no means should you view the department’s 2020 decision as an exoneration” of the police officer’s actions.
The Cleveland police department remains under court-ordered supervision after the Justice Department did an 18-month investigation and announced in December 2014 that officers had engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force and violating people’s civil rights.
Tamir’s death made local and nationwide protests, calling for Officer Timothy Loehmann and his partner, Officer Frank Garmback, to be charged and arrested. In 2015, the grand jury did not bring criminal charges against the two officers. Years later, federal prosecutors claimed they would not bring federal charges against the officers, citing that the video was of poor quality for them to see what happened.
More from the Associated Press/The Root: To bring federal civil rights charges in cases like these, the Justice Department must prove that an officer’s actions willfully broke the law and are not simply the result of a mistake, negligence or bad judgment. It has been a consistently tough burden for federal prosecutors to meet across both Democratic and Republican administrations, with the Justice Department declining criminal charges against police officers in other high-profile cases in recent years, including in the deaths of Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.