DOJ will not reopen investigation into Tamir Rice’s death

“I think they're pitiful and pathetic,” said Samaria Rice about the Department of Justice.

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The Department of Justice has announced that officials will not reopen the case of Tamir Rice, the Black boy who was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer in 2014. 

After the federal civil rights investigation into Rice’s death was closed in December 2020, the child’s family and their legal team issued a letter to President Joe Biden’s administration, and the Department of Justice, calling for the investigation into the 12-year-old’s death to be reopened, theGrio reported

Courtesy Rice family attorney

As reported by The Hill, attorneys representing Rice’s family penned a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting he reopen the case. They hoped the DOJ would complete a thorough investigation of the fatal shooting and bring charges against the officers involved in the young boy’s death.

“The election of President Biden, your appointment and your commitment to the rule of law, racial justice and police reform give Tamir’s family hope that the chance for accountability is not lost forever,” the letter stated. “We write on their behalf to request that you re-open this investigation and convene a grand jury to consider charges against the police officers who killed Tamir.”

An attorney for the family was notified last week in a Jan. 28 letter that the government wouldn’t be able to prove that Tamir’s civil rights were violated “beyond a reasonable doubt,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, the head of the Civil Rights Division.

Kristen Clarke
U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke speaks on a federal investigation of the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Police Department during a news conference at the Department of Justice on August 05, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“The United States Supreme Court has made clear that in prosecuting a Section 242 case, an officer acted ‘willfully’ if he did so with bad purpose — that is, with the specific intent to do something the law forbids — to deprive a person of their constitutional rights. After viewing, and exhaustively evaluating the available evidence in this matter, in 2020, career prosecutors determined that the federal government could not meet this high standard,” Clarke wrote.

The DOJ ended the investigation into Tamir’s death in 2020 without informing the family, theGrio reported. In August 2019, the DOJ led by Attorney General William Barr unofficially shut down its inquiry into the shooting.

The pre-teen was fatally shot while playing alone in a park with a toy gun in 2014. Rice died the day after a single bullet from the gun of now-former Officer Timothy Loehmann struck him in the stomach less than two seconds after Loehmann arrived with Officer Frank Garmback, who was driving the police cruiser.

The officers were never indicted for Rice’s death.

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Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice- who was shot to death by a police officer – speak on a panel titled “The Impact of Police Brutality – The Victims Speak” at the National Action Network (NAN) national convention on April 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Clarke’s letter noted that “By no means should you view the Department’s 2020 decision as an exoneration of Timothy Loehmann’s actions.”

Clarke wrote that the DOJ’s decision to close the case in 2020 was “based solely upon the applicable facts and law, without political input or influence,” and for this reason, the case will not be reopened.

“I think they’re pitiful and pathetic, and at this point no one is going to get justice when it comes to police shootings in America,” said Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, in a phone interview on Monday, per BuzzFeed.

“It’s disgusting I don’t have an indictment for my 12-year-old son,” she said.

This article contains additional reporting from DeMicia Inman.

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