It's been nearly a year since the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by two Cleveland police officers. Now, as public outcry for criminal charges against the involved officers persists, Cleveland.com turned to Attorney Ian Friedman and a panel of fellow experts to examine what charges Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty might realistically pursue. Their conclusions were not favorable towards a criminal conviction.
"I don't think anyone today, without knowing what the defense's actual defense is, could state they acted negligently," Friedman stated, speaking about a theoretical negligent homicide charge. "Overall, this is a very tragic situation, but I think this is a case best suited for a civil courtroom."
Additionally, Attorney Friedman did not think reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter charges held a potential for convictions either, saying both would have serious "hurdles" for McGinty to overcome. In the case of the reckless homicide, Friedman predicts that any argument that officers' aggressive driving during the incident could be blamed on the soggy ground from recent rain. An involuntary manslaughter charge would require proving that the officers violated police policy, which expert investigations have already largely dispelled.
Other charges that Ian Friedman and the panel thought were unlikely:
- Aggravated murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
Uncertain Next Steps
Earlier this month, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office released two new reports written by experts that concluded that, while the circumstances of the Rice shooting were tragic, both involved officers—Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback—acted reasonably. McGinty and his office have had to defend the findings, saying "Any suggestion that this office is protecting police is baseless and soundly rebutted when our record of prosecutions against police is reviewed."
Rice's death was one of many high-profile police killings of African American males in the last year. Along with the deaths of Eric Garner in New York, Freddie Gray in Maryland, Walter Scott in South Carolina, Eric Harris in Oklahoma, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and others, Rice's death continues to spark outrage and protests among communities all over the country calling for justice. As Attorney Friedman pointed out in his analysis, there are few easily acquired legal answers in these cases and proper restitution may be better sought in a civil courtroom.
If you are facing a criminal accusation, then the time to speak with proven and effective defense counsel is now. Ian N. Friedman is one of the most sought-after Cleveland criminal defense attorneys in Ohio and has successfully navigated nationally-covered cases for his clients. No matter how serious the charges, he and his team ensure that his clients' rights are protected and voices are heard before our criminal justice system.
Reductions and acquittals can be possible. Start exploring your defense options with a free case evaluation.