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Tamir Rice's mother testifies before grand jury

Posted: 5:32 PM, Nov 30, 2015
Updated: 2015-11-30 17:32:16-05

NewsChannel 5 Investigators have learned Tamir Rice's mother testified before the grand jury investigating her son's death Monday afternoon.

Samaria Rice's attorney, Subodh Chandra, sent us the following information about her testimony:

Today, Samaria Rice and two of her children had the opportunity to tell a grand jury about the horror they experienced on November 22, 214 when Cleveland police officers rushed upon and shot their beloved son and brother Tamir Rice.

Ms. Rice told the grand jury about how she learned about the police shooting of her 12-year-old son and what a gentle, loving, and kind soul her child was to his family and friends. 

She had the opportunity to ask the grand jury to consider whether it could possibly be “reasonable” or “justifiable” for officers to speed across the grass when driveways were nearby, rush up to Tamir, and shoot him immediately. 

She believes that the answer is plainly no, and hopes and prays that the grand jury agrees that there is probable cause to indict the officers and hold them accountable for her son's death.

Her testimony follows the release of two reports from two use-of-force experts Saturday who concluded the shooting of the 12-year-old boy was "completely unjustified and unreasonable."

The reports contradict the findings of three use-of-force expert reports released by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty, which concluded the two officers involved in the shooting were "objectively reasonable."

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Rice's legal team requested two California-based use-of-force experts—Jeffrey Noble, former deputy chief of police in Irvine, Calfornia, and Roger Clark, a police procedures consultant and veteran of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department—review the shooting.

"Tamir Rice's grieving family believes the prosecutor has tainted the process,"  said Chandra.

"Given that distortion of the process, the Rice family was put in the position of saying, 'Okay. We need to go and identify independent experts with strong law enforcement credentials to assess the situation,' " he said.

"I'm a former federal prosecutor myself and the grand jury process is, by law, secret," he said.

Both experts concluded officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback used "reckless tactics" and placed themselves in danger by driving within feet of Rice as they approached him outside the Cudell Recreation Center on Cleveland's West side on Nov. 22, 2014.

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Clark's summary says, "The killing of this child was completely avoidable and preventable, and should never have occurred."

Noble also concluded Loehmann should not have been employed by the Cleveland Division of Police. Personnel records uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigators revealed Loehmann had a history of problems, including crying while training at gun range, during his brief stint with Independence Police.

Noble also said the officers "exhibited a callous disregard for the life of Tamir by failing to provide immediate basic first aid" after Tamir was shot.

NewsChannel 5 Investigators reached out to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office about the new use-of-force reports. McGinty declined our request for an on-camera interview, but sent us the following statement:

In June the plaintiffs lawyers suing the police and the city were invited to produce witnesses and any relevant evidence. We promised it would be considered by the Sheriff's investigation team and presented to the Grand Jury. It was only this week that they asked for more time and said they had new evidence. They were told they could have the time they needed. Our stated policy in all use of deadly force cases is to welcome all relevant evidence and let the Grand Jury evaluate and make the decision. This process is a wide open search for the truth.

Prosecutors release enhanced surveillance video

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office release a sequenced enhancement of surveillance video showing the moments immediately before and after the shooting Saturday night.

The enhancement shows 326 still frames from two surveillance cameras. Video from both cameras had been previously released.

View the released photos of the surveillance video HERE

The analysis used metadata from the surveillance video to establish a timeline of events, according to a statement released by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office.

The enhancement was completed by Grant Fredericks of Forensic Video Solutions in Spokane, Washington. Fredericks did not immediately respond to newsnet5.com’s request for comment.

The statement said the enhanced video and all other reports will be presented to the grand jury for evaluation.

FULL TAMIR RICE COVERAGE

Nine of the 326 still frames included notes by Fredericks.

The first annotated photo shows the moment 10 seconds before officers arrived on scene. Fredericks notes that Tamir Rice is standing in the gazebo.

A few frames later, a police car comes into view. Fredericks writes that Rice moves toward the cruiser while it’s still moving.

Next, he writes that the police car is still moving while Rice’s right arm moves toward his waist.

In the next shot, the passenger door opens as Rice “moves forward and lowers his arm to his waist.”

According to the timeline, Officer Timothy Loehmann exits the vehicle as “Rice’s right shoulder and arm move upward.”

A single frame later, Fredericks writes that Rice “reacts to gunshot.”

In the next frame, Loehmann moves away from Rice.

In the final annotated frame, Loehmann “goes to the ground,” according to the timeline.

Fredericks never mentions the word gun — instead referring only to Rice’s arm motions.

There is also no mention of the actual shot — he only mentions Rice’s reaction to a gunshot less than 20 frames after police arrive in front of the gazebo.

According to his website, Fredericks has served as a forensic analyst for the FBI and an expert witness in over 130 court cases across the U.S. and Canada.

Chandra disputed Fredericks' assessment of the images. He said the video "disproves" claims made by prosecutors' experts that Tamir was reaching into his waistband and lifting up his jacket"
 
He also said, "The effort to characterize the evidence is hardly fair play and is one of many reasons the Rice family and clergy throughout Cleveland lack confidence in the prosecutor's fairness in this matter."

One year since Tamir's death

The incident started when a man in the park adjacent to Cudell Recreation Center saw Tamir playing with an airsoft gun, which shoots plastic pellets.

The man called 911 and reported a "black male sitting on a swing... pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it at people."

The 911 caller also told the dispatcher the gun was "probably fake" and the black male may be a juvenile, but those two pieces of information were never communicated to Loehmann or Garmback. 

The gun bore a striking resemblance to a real firearm, in part because its tell-tale orange tip had been removed.

Footage recorded by a surveillance camera shows rookie patrol officer Timothy Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds of a patrol car skidding to a stop.

RELATED | EVENTS: Cleveland remembers Tamir Rice

Questions remain about whether Loehmann told Tamir to raise his hands before firing two shots, one of which struck Tamir.

He died at MetroHealth Medical Center the next day.