12 June 2015

Cleveland Prosecutors and Police Just Got Served

On Monday, I noted that communities in Cleveland had used a peculiarity in Ohio law to ask a judge to file charges against the two police involved in the shooting death of Tamir Rice.

Well, the judge has ruled that there is probable cause to file charges, but that he cannot actually file the charges:
A judge in Cleveland ruled Thursday that probable cause existed to charge two Cleveland police officers in the death of a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, but the judge also said he did not have the power to order arrests without a complaint being filed by a prosecutor.

In his ruling, Judge Ronald B. Adrine, presiding judge of the Municipal Court, found probable cause to charge Officer Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shot, with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and dereliction of duty. He also found probable cause to charge Officer Loehmann’s partner, Officer Frank Garmback, with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.

“This court determines that complaints should be filed by the prosecutor of the City of Cleveland and/or the Cuyahoga County prosecutor,” Judge Adrine wrote.

The shooting of Tamir last Nov. 22 was one of a series of killings of unarmed black males by police officers around the country that have prompted widespread protests and calls for reform in race relations and the use of force by officers. The county prosecutor, Timothy J. McGinty, has been handling the case, and although Judge Adrine’s ruling is not binding, it puts added pressure on Mr. McGinty in a closely scrutinized case.

Mr. McGinty released a terse statement indicating that he would not be rushed into filing a criminal complaint.


This week, a group of activists and community leaders asked the court to have the officers arrested under an Ohio law that allows “a private citizen having knowledge of the facts” to start the process by filing an affidavit with a court. They argued that the widely seen video of an officer killing Tamir had given nearly everyone “knowledge of the facts.”

The Ohio law, in effect in various forms since 1960, is unusual and rarely invoked, and lawyers have disagreed about what might be achieved by using it.


The Cuyahoga County sheriff’s office conducted a five-month investigation and handed its findings to Mr. McGinty’s office early this month, but they have not been made public, and Mr. McGinty said his office still had investigating of its own to do. Eventually, his office said, prosecutors will take the case to a grand jury, which will decide whether to issue indictments. But no one could say how long that would take.

That, the petitioners said, was the problem; they argued that if the people involved had not been wearing uniforms, they would have been arrested long ago. Yet nearly seven months after Tamir died, no decision has been made.

“The video in question in this case is notorious and hard to watch,” Judge Adrine wrote in his order. “After viewing it several times, this court is still thunderstruck by how quickly this event turned deadly,” he wrote, adding that Officer Loehmann fired his gun before the car he was riding in had even come to a stop.
It's been 7 months.

Prosecutors have not even interrogated Loehmann.

When prosecutor McGinty says that he will, "Not be rushed into filing a criminal complaint," it means that he has no intention at all of prosecuting these officers unless he is absolutely forced to.

Unlike, Baltimore States Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and like St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCullogh and Richmond County District Attorney Dan Donovan, McGinty is trying his level best make this case go away, or, if this proves unavoidable, he is trying to deliberately lose.

Hopefully, this judge's ruling will put his back to a wall, but I do not see how you get an indictment, much less a conviction, with a prosecutor who is trying to lose.


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