CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The mother of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy fatally shot by police last month broke her silence on Monday, saying the officers involved should be criminally convicted.
“I‘m looking for a conviction,” Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, speaking to reporters in Cleveland.
Tamir Rice, who was black, was shot in a Cleveland park Nov. 22 while carrying a replica gun that typically fires plastic pellets. His death came at a time of heightened national scrutiny of police use of force, especially against African-Americans.
Last week, Rice’s family filed a suit against the city of Cleveland and the two police officers involved: Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot Rice, and Frank Garmback, who was driving the car. Both officers are white.
Rice was shot less than two seconds after the police car pulled up beside the boy at a park, video of the incident released by police showed.
Police shootings always go to grand juries in Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located.
However, Rice’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, on Monday told reporters that a grand jury was not necessary and that there was enough probable cause from the video to indict.
“The things that he did in that video, which I suggest is enough probable cause to indict the police officer now and have a trial jury where everybody can see it, where it can be transparent,” Crump told reporters.
Crump also represented the family of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager whose fatal shooting by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, led to months of protests.
In the Brown case, as well as a New York case involving the death of a black man who was put in a chokehold during an arrest, grand juries declined to indict the officers involved.
Rice said her sixth grader was loved by everyone. “He was my baby,” Rice said, adding that he helped at school and at the recreation center where he was killed.
“Tamir was a bright child, he had a promising future, and he was very talented in all sports - soccer, basketball, football - he played the drums, he drew, he played video games, he’s a great swimmer,” Rice said. She said the toy gun did not belong to Tamir, but was a friend‘s.
Rice also said her 14-year-old daughter, who went to the scene after the shooting, was tackled, handcuffed and put in the back of a police car after the shooting.
Both officers involved in the shooting are on leave and the shooting is being investigated by Cleveland authorities.
Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Eric Beech and Susan Heavey