Shooting of black youth (12) by white officer 'was justified'
A white Ohio police officer was justified in shooting dead a black 12-year-old boy holding a pellet gun moments after pulling up beside him, two independent reports have said.
Both a retired FBI agent and a Denver prosecutor found the rookie Cleveland patrolman who shot Tamir Rice exercised a reasonable use of force because he had reason to perceive the boy - described in an emergency call as a man waving and pointing a gun - as a serious threat.
The killing of Tamir has become part of a national outcry about minorities, especially black boys and men, dying during encounters with police.
The reports were released by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, which asked for the outside reviews as it presents evidence to a grand jury that will ultimately determine whether Timothy Loehmann will be charged over the death of Tamir last November.
"We are not reaching any conclusions from these reports," Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said. "The gathering of evidence continues and the grand jury will evaluate it all."
He said the reports, which included a technical reconstruction by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, were released in the interests of being "as public and transparent as possible."
But Subodh Chandra, a lawyer for the Rice family, said the reports showed the prosecutor's office was avoiding accountability. He said the Rice family wanted the officers held accountable and it seemed "the prosecutor's office has been on a 12-month quest" to avoid it.
Both experts were provided with surveillance video of the shooting that showed Officer Loehmann firing at Tamir within two seconds after the police cruiser driven by his partner pulled up next to the boy.
"(Getting) so-called experts to assist in the whitewash - when the world has the video of what happened - is all the more alarming," he said.
Police said the officers were responding to a call about a man with a gun, but were not told the caller said the gun could be a fake and the man could be an adolescent.
The pellet gun Tamir was holding shot non-lethal plastic projectiles, but its orange markings had been removed.