Sunday marked one year since Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Yesterday, his family and hundreds of supporters gathered in the park where he last played for a vigil in celebration of his life.
Rice, who was Black, was playing with a toy gun when Loehmann and his partner were called to the Cudell Recreation Center playground. Someone had called the police to report that the boy had what was likely a toy gun, though that information was not relayed to the officers. Video shows that Loehmann opened fire on the child less than two seconds after he and partner Frank Garmback arrived. Rice died the next day from the gunshot to his torso. In October, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty convened a grand jury to decide if the officers, who are White, should be charged for killing Rice.
Rice’s family and local activists maintain that McGinty has stood in the way of justice every step of the way in the case, from delaying the grand jury to releasing third-party reports that found the killing justified. Today, protestors will present petitions asking him to remove himself from the case.
Organizer Elle Hearns said at the vigil that today’s action is “an opportunity to join us as organizers, and as a family with demands of the city and of the prosecutor to do the right thing and to make sure that this family has an opportunity to heal and to have some peace.”
It won’t be the first time McGinty has been asked to recuse himself and appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the case. A group of local pastors and rabbis held a press conference earlier this month demanding the same thing. McGinty has consistently refused to step down from the case. Rice’s mother, Samaria, and Loehmann are scheduled to testify before the grand jury within the next three weeks.
A reported 200,000 people have signed the petitions that will be delivered during today’s action.