By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The Ohio prosecutor heavily criticized for failing to indict two Cleveland police officers in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice has lost his bid for re-election.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty was unable to hold off a challenge from Democrat Michael O’Malley, a suburban public safety director, in a primary election with heavy voter turnout on Tuesday.
McGinty said in a statement that "the voters have spoken" and he was proud of the work his office had done. He declined further comment on Wednesday through a spokesman.
With no Republican challenger to face in the November election, O’Malley becomes the prosecutor-elect and will begin his term in January 2017.
McGinty came under fire last December after he announced officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann, both white, would not be criminally charged in the November 2014 death of Rice, who was black.
The officers were responding to a 911 call about a man in a Cleveland park with a gun when Loehmann shot Rice, who was playing with a replica gun, within seconds of arriving.
McGinty was criticized during the probe of the shooting for the release of multiple reports that deemed the shooting “reasonable” before the grand jury decision.
The grand jury decision spawned weeks of intermittent protests in the city and around the state, and a coalition of Cleveland African-American leaders had called for McGinty's resignation or election defeat.
“A lot of people were simply anxious to see a change. A lot of people were going on emotion,” James Hardiman of the NAACP in Cleveland said of McGinty’s defeat. “The Tamir Rice situation hurt him not just in the black community but in the police community.”
McGinty received 44 percent of the vote to O’Malley’s nearly 56 percent with more than 40 percent of registered voters coming out for the presidential primary, according to unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections on Wednesday.
More than 3.1 million ballots were cast in the state, constituting a 41.4 percent turnout – the second highest in a primary election. The record was set in the 2008 at 46.04 percent.
In Illinois, the Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez lost her race for similar reasons as she had been harshly criticized for her handling of a police shooting investigation in Chicago that sparked protests there.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer, Editing by Ben Klayman and Tom Brown)