By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Three police officers involved in the fatal 2014 shooting of a 12-year-old African-American Ohio boy who was playing with a pellet gun will face internal discipline for their actions, officials in Cleveland said Friday.
The disciplinary charges against the white officer who shot Tamir Rice come two years after the shooting, which set off days of protests and fueled scrutiny of police use of deadly force against unarmed black men.
The hearing on Jan. 30 will not address whether the shooting was justified. Instead, police will deal with more minor infractions such as violating department policies and filing false reports.
Last year, a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against the officers.
Cleveland patrol officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot Rice; his partner Frank Garmback; and William Cunningham II could face a verbal reprimand, suspension, demotion or termination, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference Friday.
Loehmann shot Rice in the abdomen seconds after arriving outside a recreation center with Garmback. The officers were responding to a 911 call regarding a man brandishing a gun.
Rice died the next day and investigators discovered the gun was a replica-type pistol that shoots plastic pellets.
Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother, said the charges are insufficient.
"The system has failed me over and over again," she said. "It is agonizing, painful and very disrespectful."
Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra was concerned that any discipline might be overturned because of a union-mandated arbitration process.
"We wait for a process that if history is any guide will fail and that is sad," Chandra said.
Last year, the city settled a civil lawsuit the family had filed over the child's death, agreeing to pay $6 million.
The department said Loehmann made false statements on his job application regarding his previous work history and the reason he left his previous job.
Garmback was charged with failing to follow police procedure and failing to report his arrival time to the radio dispatcher immediately after arriving at the scene.
Cunningham faces disciplinary action for moonlighting without permission and filing a false report in connection to the Rice shooting.
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Lisa Shumaker)