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The case has drawn widespread controversy.

The cop who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice “had reason to fear for his life,” and will not face charges

By Hanna Kozlowska

A grand jury has decided not to indict the Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice last November, county prosecutor Timothy McGinty said during a news conference on Monday (Dec. 28).

Rice, who was black, was killed outside a playground while carrying a toy pellet gun. Officer Timothy Loehmann fired his gun immediately after pulling up to Rice in a police car, according to surveillance footage.

A caller had notified the police through a 911 call that they saw Rice with a gun, stipulating that the pistol was “probably” fake. But that information was never passed on to Loehmann and his partner—part of what McGinty called a “perfect storm of human error” that led to the tragedy.

McGinty said Loehmann, who is white and a rookie on the police force, “had reason to fear for his life.” The prosecutor, who recommended that charges not be filed, added that it is “indisputable that Tamir Rice was pulling his gun from his waist.”

The case sparked protests around the country amid a growing outcry about US police violence against minorities.

Rice’s family has frequently clashed with McGinty, who commissioned several expert reports that deemed Loehmann’s use of force legitimate, and in an unusual move, released them to the public while the grand jury was deliberating. “We have never seen a prosecutor try so hard to lose a case,” a lawyer for the family told The New York Times.

McGinty said Rice’s death was an “absolute tragedy,” but that “it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime.”