Criminal Justice

Judge finds probable cause to charge police officers in Cleveland boy's shooting death

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A Cleveland judge has found that probable cause exists to charge two police officers in the shooting death last November of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

But the judge said Thursday he was powerless to order the officers’ arrest without a complaint from prosecutors, the New York Times, and NBC News report.

In his ruling, Municipal Court Judge Ronald B. Adrine said probable cause existed to charge officer Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shot, with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide or dereliction of duty. He said said probable cause existed to charge officer Frank Garmback, who drove the patrol car, with negligent homicide or dereliction of duty.

“Having completed the review of all of the affidavits in this matter … this court determines that complaints should be filed by the prosecutor of the city of Cleveland and/or the Cuyahoga County prosecutor,” Municipal Court Judge Ronald B. Adrine said in 10-page ruling (PDF).

Thursday night, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said he would not be rushed into filing a criminal complaint.

“This case, as with all other fatal use of deadly force cases involving law enforcement, will go to the grand jury,” McGinty said in a statement. “That has been the policy of this office since I was elected.”

Earlier this week, a group of activists and community leaders had asked the judge to have the two officers arrested under a rarely used Ohio law that allows private citizens “with knowledge of the facts” to initiate a prosecution by filing an affidavit with the court.

The petitioners had argued that the 1960 law required the judge to order the officers arrested if they proved that probable cause existed.

But the judge said there is a conflict between the law and the rules spelled out by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Rice was shot to death while playing with an Airsoft gun in a city park.

Updated at 9:10 p.m. to add McGinty’s statement.

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