Apr 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Tamir Rice's family urges DOJ to reopen investigation of police killing

Photo of a person holding up a sign that says "Justice 4 Tamir. What do I tell my son?" at a protest

Demonstrators gather outside of The Justice Center on Dec. 29, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio to protest after a grand jury declined to indict Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann for the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice. Photo: Angelo Merendino via Getty Images

The family of Tamir Rice, the Black 12-year-old fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer in 2014, is asking President Biden's Justice Department to reopen the federal probe into his death.

Why it matters: Former Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot and killed Rice, never faced charges. The Rice family's request comes amid outrage over the police killing of Daunte Wright earlier this week, Derek Chauvin's ongoing trial and the release of footage on Thursday showing the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago.

What they're saying: "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," Rice's family writes.

  • "The truth is that the actual facts, when stripped of pro-police bias, are indisputably straight-forward," the family argues, adding that the case deserves to a grand jury.
  • The letter also accuses former President Trump's DOJ of forging a "self-serving memo to try to explain its decision by deceptively making this case seem complicated and difficult to prosecute."
  • "Tamir would have been 19 years old in June. I'm still in so much pain because no one has been held accountable for the criminal act that took his life," Rice's mother told The Hill

The DOJ did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

What happened: Loehmann shot and killed Rice after police responded to a caller who said a "guy with a pistol" was pointing it at multiple people on a playground. The caller had noted the gun was "probably fake" and that the person holding it was "probably a juvenile," the New York Times reports.

  • Rice was shot within two seconds of the officers' arrival. The gun Rice carried was a pellet gun.
  • The DOJ opened an investigation in 2015 after a local grand jury did not bring charges against the officers.
  • But the agency denied requests to use a grand jury and officially ended the probe last year, claiming issues with the footage quality led to a dead end.
  • Loehmann was ultimately fired in October 2016, not for killing Rice but for lying on his application to become an officer, per AP.

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