CLEVELAND, Ohio — The head of the police union that represents Cleveland police blasted community leaders’ plans to bypass prosecutors and seek arrest warrants for the officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association called the move a dangerous and selfish attempt to “hijack rule of law.”
“It is very sad how miserable the lives of these self appointed activists, civil rights leaders, and clergy must be,” Loomis said. “I can’t imagine being so very consumed with anger and hatred.”
The group, led by the Rev. Jawanza K. Colvin and Case Western Reserve University professor Rhonda Williams, plans to use an obscure state law that allows citizens with knowledge of the facts of a case to compel a judge to issue an arrest warrant.
The group is expected to file several affidavits Tuesday seeking charges of murder and manslaughter against officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback for their roles in the Nov. 22 shooting outside Cudell Recreation Center. The move is an attempt to sidestep Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty who will present the case to a grand jury, a process that could take weeks.
Community leaders and attorneys for Tamir’s family have complained about the length of the investigation, now nearing its sixth month. The investigation was turned over to McGinty’s office just last week after the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department announced it had completed an independent fact-gathering investigation.
While officials remained uncertain how the rarely invoked legal move would proceed, Loomis said it could set a dangerous precedent that could compromise the integrity of the judicial system.
“Trying to coerce public officials into filing a criminal charge under direct or indirect threat of mob rule is a very dangerous game,” he said.
Loehmann and Garmback responded to a 911 call from a man who said that he saw someone pointing a gun at people. The dispatcher did not tell Loehmann and Garmback that the caller said the gun could be fake.
As Garmback drove his police cruiser beside a gazebo where Tamir was sitting, surveillance video shows the boy stand up and slowly walk toward the car. Loomis said that Tamir reached for his waistband as Loehmann jumped from the car. The officer shot the boy within seconds.
Tamir’s gun turned out to be airsoft-style pellet gun.
Loomis said Tuesday’s filings will not change the facts of the investigation, and said he didn’t expect the move to be the group’s last.
“This mob mentality of ‘you must charge or else’ will quickly turn in to ‘you must convict or else,'” Loomis said.