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Our Armchair Revolutionaries

ICYMI: Grand Jury Decides Not To Charge Officers In Tamir Rice Shooting. Also, Rice Wasn’t Open Carrying

Back in June, Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine found cause to charge Cleveland Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback with murder and negligent homicide respectively in the case of the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Yet, he did not have the authority to issue arrest warrants, and the fact that Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said the matter of moving forward with criminal charges will be decided by a grand jury. The Rice case is one of the many police-involved shooting deaths of Black Americans that spawned the Black Lives Matter movement.


Rice was shot and killed by Officer Loehmann on November 22, 2014 after a 911 call reported that someone was walking around with a gun at a local park. Rice was playing with a toy pellet gun, but had removed the orange safety tip, according to The safety tip serves to differentiate a toy gun from a real one.

The entire interaction, captured by a city-owned surveillance camera, lasted less than two seconds. Loehmann wrote that he shouted four times for Tamir to show his hands before he opened fire.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office released three reports from national experts in police use of force that each found the boy's shooting was tragic but reasonable because the officers did not know Tamir's age or that the gun was fake. The experts also concluded that a reasonable officer responding to a report of a man with a gun would have considered Tamir's movements around his waist to pose a "threat" to their safety. They also concluded the use of deadly force would be legally appropriate.

The reports drew ire from lawyers representing Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice, in a wrongful death lawsuit against the officers and the city. The lawyers accused the experts of being too deferential to law enforcement. The attorneys eventually released reports from three of their own experts, two policing experts and a bio-kinetics expert, who concluded that the shooting was unreasonable and that Tamir's hands were actually in his jacket pockets when Loehmann fired.


Now, the caller also said that the gun was “probably fake,” but that information never reached Officers Loehmann and Garmback.

On Monday, the grand jury decided not to bring charges against Officers Leohmann and Garmback, which was not welcomed by the Rice family, who claimed McGinty had sabotaged the process (via WaPo):

In announcing the decision, McGinty said that newly enhanced surveillance video made it “indisputably clear” that the boy was reaching into his waistband for the toy — which was “indistinguishable” from a real gun — just before Officer Timothy Loehmann opened fire.

“The outcome will not cheer anyone, nor should it,” McGinty said of the grand jury’s decision. “The death of Tamir Rice was an absolute tragedy. But it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime.”


McGinty said he informed Tamir’s mother of the grand jury’s decision before announcing it publicly. “It was a tough conversation,” he said. “She was broken up.”

In a statement, Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, said she was “devastated” by the decision. She claimed McGinty had “deliberately sabotaged the case,” and she urged federal officials to pursue civil rights charges.

Now, in some publications, instead of having a serious dialogue about whether this shooting was justified or not, they decided to go off on this bizarre tangent about how Ohio is an open carry state (via Esquire):

Is there any real point in being angry any more? Is there any real point even to be surprised? There certainly is no point in emphasizing the damn irony that Ohio is an "open carry" state so, even if the cops assumed Rice was 18, and they also assumed his gun was real, they had no cause even to stop him, let alone open fire. Listen to the spiel that Wayne LaPierre unspools every time he's in a room with more than four people listening: arm yourselves, because the world is a hellscape of violent Others who are coming for you and your children. At its heart, open carry is about open season on the people who scare you. It's certainly not about an absolute Second Amendment right that applies to black people as well as white. Open carry is about You and the Others, and so is the training of our modern, militarized police forces. If only Tamir Rice had not been born with that congenital ability to become huge and threatening the way he did in the mind of Timothy Loehmann. If only…


First of all, this rally isn’t an open carry issue. Forty-five states* allow open carry, with 31 requiring no permit to do so. To suggest that the Second Amendment is a civil right for us to declare “open season” on everyone else is also flawed and a textbook example of liberals’ anxiety and paranoia about people who own firearms, almost 30 percent of which are registered Democrats. Using a firearm is only for self-defense, which is what these officers of the law allege they did. The grand jury and the county prosecutor agreed. Moreover, Tamir Rice wasn’t open carrying. He was either concealed carrying or brandishing (for lack of better terms since we’re talking about a toy gun here), as Bob Owens, my colleague over at Bearing Armsaptly noted:

Rice was concealing (not open carrying) a replica firearm by sticking it in the waistband of his pants under a loose-fitting hoodie. To carry a firearm in that manner, you must be 21 years of age, receive a minimum of 12 hours of handgun training (10 hours of classroom instruction and 2 hours of range time) from a certified instructor, demonstrate competency with a handgun through written and shooting tests, pass a criminal background check, and meet certain residency requirements.


In situations such as this “man with a gun” call, the responding officer or officers are going to be looking for your hands and your overall demeanor, which are the primary indicators of whether or not they might be facing an immediate deadly force threat.

Sadly, in this incident, Tamir Rice did everything wrong possible. He walked towards the officers, lifted his hoodie, and began to draw his replica weapon. Every law enforcement officer in the country—indeed, every citizen, period—has to regard such an action as a lethal force threat.

Those who are competently trained to use defensive firearms by professional instructors are going to draw their weapons and fire at least two shots in the situation the passenger-side officer found himself in. It’s too late to shout a warning (though the officer did), and too late to attempt to “deescalate the situation” (as another progressive demanded) when someone is drawing a gun.

You shoot until the threat is stopped at this point. Period.

Tamir Rice made a number of bad decisions that fateful day, but all of them were survivable until that fateful decision to attempt to draw his replica gun as the police arrived.


Regardless, this incident is still tragic, which Owens also noted. He also mentioned that Rice was probably going to put his toy gun on the ground, but there is no open carry narrative here. Yes, I know some other lefty blogs are intertwining the open carry and racial narratives. I’ll let read those arguments. All I can say is that sometimes you’re going to have a better interaction with a brick wall than with some of these folks on the left. 

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