A report commissioned by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor has found that officers acted reasonably in the shooting of Tamir Rice, an unarmed 12-year-old boy whose death was captured on surveillance camera.
The report is the third independent report Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has released. Two previous reports also found that Officer Timothy Loehmann acted reasonably. Activists and Rice’s relatives have charged that the reports are being released in an attempt to justify a decision not to charge Loehmann for Rice’s death. It has now been nearly a year since Rice’s death, but there have not yet been charges.
The new report is by Ken Katsaris, a police consultant and trainer in Florida. Katsaris concludes, in short, that based on what the officers knew and what they could observe, all of the actions they took were within reason, since they had no way of knowing whether the toy gun Rice had was real or what he was doing. Katsaris’s report ends with a stunningly ill-chosen linkage of Rice’s death and professional consequences for Loehmann, saying both are “tragedies”:
This unquestionably was a tragic loss of life, but to compound the tragedy by labeling the officers [sic] conduct as anything but objectively reasonable would also be a tragedy, albeit not carrying with it the consequences of the loss of life, only the possibility of loss of career. But based on the circumstances outlined above, this outcome for the officers would be to judge them by other than the Court decisions on the use of deadly force, the State law, training provided by the State of Ohio, the CPD, and the recognized and accepted National Police Best Practices.
In Rice’s case, as in many cases of alleged police brutality, there are two separate planes of discussion. The first is the question of whether officers did was strictly allowed under the rules. Unsurprisingly, reviews by law enforcement tend to lean toward vindicating police decisions. (This is one reason why so few police officers are prosecuted for the many cases in which they shoot civilians—their actions are usually ruled justified.)