Police officers will not face charges in the shooting death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy killed by police last year while holding a toy gun in a Cleveland park.
Tim McGinty, Cuyahoga County prosecutor, announced the grand jury decision in a Monday press conference.
“The death of Tamir Rice was an absolute tragedy, it was horrible, unfortunate and regrettable. But it was not, by the law that binds us, a crime,” McGinty said.
"The law gives benefit of the doubt to the officers who must make split second decisions when they reasonably believed their lives or those of innocent bystanders, were in danger. Based on these rules, it became clear through this investigation that the actions of Officers Loehmann and Garmback were not criminal."
He called the shooting a “perfect storm of human error,” going on to note that the police departments “must live with the awful knowledge that their mistakes, however unintentional, led to the death of a 12-year-old boy.”
“We too want justice for Tamir,” McGinty said, noting the calls by protestors in Ohio and throughout the country.
“But justice would not be achieved by bringing charges that would violate the ethical cannons of our professions, because we know these charges could not be sustained under the law and our Constitution”
A statement released by the Rice family said they were "saddened and disappointed" by the lack of charges, but not surprised.
"It has been clear for months now that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was abusing and manipulating the grand jury process to orchestrate a vote against indictment,” it said.
Rice's killing last year shocked the country.
Officers responded to calls that a person was brandishing a gun at a recreation center in Cleveland, where Rice was playing with what turned out to be a toy gun.
Video shows that the officers immediately exited the car and began to shoot. The officer that shot Rice had only been with the force a few months.
McGinty noted that the 911 operator failed to tell police the “all important facts” that the caller said the suspect was “probably a juvenile” and questioned whether the gun was real.
“Had the officers been aware of these qualifiers, the training officer who was driving might have approached the scene with less urgency, lives may not have been put at stake.”
Prosecutors added that while most pellet guns have at least a small orange tip at the tip of the muzzle to distinguish it from a real gun, Rice's gun lacked that feature.
Rice’s death sparked an investigation by the Justice Department into a pattern of excessive force by Cleveland police officers, resulting in a consent decree that binds the city to reforms.
The grand jury decision comes amid heightened tensions over how police deal with black communities.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is facing pressure to resign over the shooting of an unarmed black man by white police officers.
Over the weekend, two other people — including an activist who spoke out against police brutality — were killed by police responding to a domestic disturbance. The shooting of Bettie Jones, the community activist, was an accident, according to Chicago police.
Grand juries have also declined to indict police officers in high-profile incidents including the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City. A jury also declined to indict officers last week in relation to the death of Sandra Bland in a Texas prison.