NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — Protesters rallied in Washington Square Park and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge Monday night, after a grand jury declined to indict the officers involved in the shooting that killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland last year.
Protesters reported on Twitter that they rallied with signs and held a moment of silence for Tamir in Washington Square Park.
A protester also reported that the group marched over the Brooklyn Bridge, where what was described as an “army” of police officers were waiting for them.
There were no immediate reports on arrests.
In Cleveland on Monday, the grand jury declined to indict police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback in the Nov. 22, 2014 shooting that killed Tamir.
Surveillance video showed Loehmann shooting Tamir within seconds of his car pulling over near the gazebo at the Cudell Rec Center on West Boulevard in Cleveland, CBS affiliate WOIO-TV reported.
Tamir was carrying a borrowed airsoft gun that looked like a real gun, but shot nonlethal plastic pellets. It was missing its telltale orange tip, CBS News reported.
Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Meyer said Monday that Tamir was seen in surveillance footage repeatedly drawing the gun from his waistband and putting it back on the morning before officers arrived. He was also seen pointing the gun at other children.
A 911 caller said “the guy” with a gun was probably a juvenile and the gun was probably fake. Meyer said a dispatcher didn’t relay that to the officers.
Loehmann, the rookie officer who fired at Rice, told investigators he repeatedly ordered the boy to “show me your hands,” then saw him pull a weapon from his waistband before opening fire.
Previous reports concluded that Loehmann shot Rice within two seconds of opening his car door. The new analysis determined it happened even faster, within less than a second, according to a recent review by California-based shooting reconstruction expert Jesse Wobrock.
But on Monday, Cuyahoga County, Ohio Prosecutor Tim McGinty said it was “indisputable” that the boy was drawing the weapon from his waistband when he was gunned down – either to hand it over to police or to show them that it wasn’t a real firearm. But McGinty said there was no way for the officers on the scene to know that.
He called it “a perfect storm of human error,” but said no crime was committed.
Tamir’s family released a statement through their attorney saying they were saddened but not surprised by the grand jury’s decision. Their statement called into question McGinty’s hiring of an “expert” who only supported the officer’s assertions, as well as allowing the offices to read prepared statements to the grand jury without cross examination.
“It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment,” the Rice family statement reads.
During Monday’s news conference announcing the grand jury decision, McGinty said that the mother of 12-year-old Rice was “broken up” when she learned that two officers wouldn’t be charged for their roles in his shooting death.
McGinty says “it was a tough conversation” with Tamir’s mother. Tamir’s family had pushed for charges against the officers. Tamir’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the two officers and the city.
In explaining the decision not to bring charges, McGinty said police radio personnel contributed to the tragedy by failing to pass along the “all-important fact” that the 911 caller said the gunman was probably a juvenile and the gun probably wasn’t real.
Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Meyer said it was “extremely difficult” to tell the difference between the fake gun and a real one, since the orange tip had been removed. And he said Tamir was big for his age – 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, with a men’s XL jacket and size-36 pants – and could have easily passed for someone much older.
Before police arrived, the youngster was seen repeatedly drawing the gun from his waistband and pointing it at other children, Meyer said.
“There have been lessons learned already. It should never happen again, and the city has taken steps so it doesn’t,” McGinty said.
Among other things, the Cleveland police department is putting dashboard cameras in every car and equipping officers with bodycams.
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