Cuyahoga County, Oh., Prosecutor Timothy McGinty released reports from two experts in police use of force who concluded that the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland officer was “tragic” and “heartbreaking,” but reasonable given that the officer believed the boy to be armed, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reports. The reviews are the first of many sought by McGinty as his office prepares to present to a grand jury the case that thrust Cleveland into the heart of an ongoing national conversation on police violence. Experts Kimberly Crawford, a retired Virginia FBI agent, and Denver-area District Attorney S. Lamar Sims stressed that they did not look at whether Tim Loehmann or partner Frank Garmback violated Ohio laws, made tactical mistakes or broke with department policy in the moments leading up to the shooting. They examined the constitutionality of Loehmann’s decision to open fire on the boy during their two-second encounter.
“There can be no doubt that Rice’s death was tragic and, indeed, when one considers his age, heartbreaking,” Sims wrote in a 52-page analysis. “However, I conclude that Officer Loehmann’s belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat.” Both experts reviewed surveillance camera footage of the shooting and concluded that the fact that Tamir reached toward his waistband gave first-year officer Loehmann legal reason to consider him a threat and open fire Nov. 22 outside a recreation center. Crawford and Sims said they could use only the information Loehmann knew at the moment he shot Tamir and not the boy’s age or that the gun he carried was fake, two details that make the case unique among the dozens of use-of-force cases drawing scrutiny toward police forces across the nation.