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People gather to protest against the police killing of Tamir Rice. Photo: Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Department of Justice said on Tuesday it would not bring charges against two officers in 2014 fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and that it was closing its federal investigation into the shooting.

Why it matters: The killing of Rice triggered large protests against police brutality and galvanized support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Reacting to Tuesday's announcement, Rice's family lawyer said the Justice Department’s “process was tainted," per AP.

Driving the news: The department concluded that the quality of a video of the shooting was too poor for prosecutors to establish what occurred and that the cumulative evidence was not enough to support a federal criminal civil rights prosecution.

  • The department said prosecutors were unable to determine whether Rice was or was not reaching for the pellet gun prior to being shot because his hands are not visible in the video.
  • To bring federal civil rights charges, the department would have to prove that the officers' actions willfully broke the law rather than being the result of a mistake, negligence or bad judgment, per AP.

Context: Tamir was playing with a pellet gun near a recreation center in Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2014, when he was shot and killed by officer Timothy Loehmann not long after Loehmann and his partner, officer Frank Garmback, arrived at the scene.

  • The officers were called to the recreation center after a person called 911 to report that a “guy” was pointing a gun at people, though the caller told a 911 dispatcher that it was probably a juvenile and the gun might be “fake."
  • The two officers told authorities soon after the shooting that Rice was reaching for the pellet gun before being shot and was given multiple commands to show his hands.

Subodh Chandra, an attorney for Rice's family said in statement that it is "beyond comprehension that the Department couldn’t recognize that an officer who claims he shouted commands when the patrol car’s window was closed and it was a winter day is lying," per AP.

  • “The Rice family has been cheated of a fair process yet again,” he added.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

Ohio sues Biden admin over reversal of Trump-era abortion referral ban

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration Monday over a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals that President Biden overturned earlier this month.

The big picture: The lawsuit aims to reinstate two measures included in the 2019 legislation that required federally funded family planning clinics to be "financially independent of abortion clinics," and refrain from referring patients for abortions.

Oklahoma Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion restrictions

A pro-choice activist demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked three abortion restrictions set to take effect on Nov. 1.

Why it matters: The laws would place new limits on medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to attain board certification in obstetrics and gynecology.