Cleveland municipal court judge Ronald Ardine said Thursday that there is probable cause to charge city police officer Timothy Loehmann in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
Loehmann shot Rice at a city park on Nov. 22 after responding to 911 calls about a person walking around and pointing a gun. Though a caller stated that they believed Rice’s gun was fake — he was carrying an air pistol — Loehmann shot the boy nearly as soon as he exited a cruiser being driven by officer Frank Garmback.
In his ruling, which was a response to an affidavit filed by clergy members and community leaders, Adrine ruled that there is probable cause to charge Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. Probable cause exists to charge Garmback with the latter two offenses, the judge ruled.
In his judgement, Ardine referenced a video that moments before and after Rice’s shooting.
“The video in this case is notorious and hard to watch,” Adrine stated. “This court is still thunderstruck by how quickly this event turned deadly.”
Adrine said that the video does not appear to show Rice making “any furtive movement” as the officers arrived. He also noted that neither Garmback nor Loehmann provide medical assistance to Rice for four minutes after the shooting. An off-duty FBI agent who was in the area at the time of the incident provided initial medical help.
Another part of the video that has caused controversy is how Garmback responded when Rice’s teenage sister ran to his aid after the shooting. The video shows Garmback restrain the girl as she ran towards Rice.
As Ardine stated in the judgement, it is still up to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor to decide whether or not to charge Loehmann or Garmback. The prosecutor began reviewing the case last week, after the conclusion of the Cuyahoga sheriff’s department’s six month investigation.
An attorney for Rice’s family expressed some relief at Ardine’s decree.
“We are very much relieved and it is a step towards procedural justice and people having access to their government,” Walter Madison told The Guardian.
Ardine’s ruling did not address other troubling aspects of the case. For instance, Loehmann, who was hired last March, quit a previous police job in Independence, Ohio in Nov. 2012 after a poor performance review. He applied for several jobs after and was not hired. In Sept. 2013, Loehmann failed the written cognitive portion of the Cuyahoga County sheriff’s with a score of 46 out of 100. The passing score was 70.