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13 Nov, 2015 04:55

‘Simply obvious’: Police expert says shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice justified

‘Simply obvious’: Police expert says shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice justified

A Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office report includes a police expert’s “simply obvious” conclusion that the Cleveland police shooting, which killed Tamir Rice was justified. The report comes as the grand jury hears evidence and is considering pressing charges.

The analysis released on Thursday from W. Ken Katsaris, a retired Florida police officer, finds Officer Timothy Loehmann was within his rights on November 22, 2014 when he shot Rice, a 12-year-old boy with a pellet gun at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Katsaris is the third police expert to come to that conclusion.

Loehmann, who was a rookie at the time of the incident, along with his training officer Frank Garmback, are under a grand jury investigation, which will lead to either an indictment or dismissal of the case.

"This unquestionably was a tragic loss of life," Katsaris wrote in the report. "But to compound the tragedy by labeling the officers' conduct as anything but objectively reasonable would also be a tragedy."

"It is simply obvious that the officers had a reasonable belief that Rice was armed.”

Katsaris has successfully testified to clear a Cleveland patrolman before. Officer Michael Brelo faced two voluntary manslaughter charges after a 2012 car chase ended with him shooting 15 rounds into two unarmed black people, killing them both. Katsaris found it was justified and the judge acquitted Brelo.

"Regrettably, with the release of yet another utterly biased and shamelessly misguided 'expert report' the County Prosecutor is making clear his intention to protect the police from accountability under the criminal laws, rather than diligently prosecute them," the lead attorney in the Tamir Rice case, Jonathan Abady, said in a statement on Thursday.

"It would be premature for me to announce any final decision on charging,” Timothy McGinty, the county prosecutor, said in a statement.

McGinty has faced rising pressure to remove himself from the case since last week, when he questioned the motives of the Rice family and attorneys.

A WKYC reporter addressed McGinty with the question, "Samaria Rice's attorney -- and Samaria Rice herself --- they have said a special prosecutor should take over. Will you step aside?"

McGinty answered, "They waited until they didn't like the reports they received. They're very interesting people… let me just leave it at that… and they have their own economic motives."

On Friday, local clergy gathered the press and read aloud a letter to McGinty, addressing that statement.

"Your most recent comments that the Rice's family's motivations are economic in nature are reprehensible and further add to the growing sentiment that the matter in which the Rice case has proceeded is tainted with bias at the worst and poorly handled at the minimum," the letter signed by four reverends and a rabbi stated.