Indictments are inevitable in the Tamir Rice case

Tamir Rice

The recent report reviewing the new video of the death of Tamir Rice concluded that the 12-year-old boy had his hands in his pockets when he was shot and wasn’t reaching for the pellet gun he’d been carrying. Rice didn’t have enough time to remove his hands from his pocket before being shot and killed, according to the expert who reviewed the video.

The new report is the third that the Rice family and others believe represents more than enough evidence to present to a grand jury as it considers whether indictments against two police officers should be brought.

There is no question after more than a year after the killing of Rice that there will be indictments. The question is which of two indictments will it be.

Will it be indictments of both of the Cleveland police officers for their role in Rice’s death?

It’s been said that the evidence for an indictment before a grand jury is so meager that a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. We’re not talking about evidence that proves guilt, but rather simply enough evidence to warrant charges and a subsequent trial. It’s absolutely clear to any objective person who’s seen the video and now read the expert reports that the very low legal bar indictment threshold has been met.

Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty will bring indictments against both Cleveland police officers.

If he doesn’t, then there will be the second type of indictments – by much of the Cleveland community and nation at-large against the Cleveland Police Department and the so-called “justice” system of the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. It will be blatantly obvious that there is no justice, fairness, accountability and responsibility of these entire institutions and structures. There will be demands for not simply a change of perceived responsible elected officials, but a demand for fundamental changes of laws, regulations and rules that are inclusive and representatives of community voices and interests.

One or the other form of indictments will take place when McGinty makes his decision. If he doesn’t directly indict both involved Cleveland police officers, he will have chosen indirectly an indictment of several institutions, including his own office and much of the rest of what will be the misnamed city and county “justice” system.

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