The Justice Department officially closed its probe into the 2014 police killing of 12-year-old of Tamir Rice, bringing no federal charges against the Cleveland, Ohio police officers involved.
The Department said in a statement on Tuesday that the investigation found “insufficient evidence” to prove that the officers willfully violated Rice’s constitutional right or obstructed justice, in their statements to law enforcement.
Rice’s killing was among several that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and sparked protests against police brutality.
The New York Times reported that the DOJ quietly abandoned the probe in August, but did not notify Rice’s family why no charges were filed.
Rice was shot by officer Timothy Loehmann after police responded to call about a “guy with a pistol” pointing a gun at multiple people on a playground.
As the DOJ pointed out in its statement, the caller told the 911 dispatcher that the boy was “probably a juvenile,” and that the pellet gun he was playing with was “probably fake.” However, the dispatcher did not relay that information to the officers.
The DOJ said video footage of the incident is “grainy, shot from a distance, does not show detail or perspective,” and that the location of the police car blocked portions of the incident.
Loehmann and his partner Frank Garmback have repeatedly insisted that they gave Rice commands to show his hands before the shooting, and that Rice was reaching for the toy gun. However, the DOJ said it was unclear from the video what he was doing.
The DOJ also cited inconsistent witness statements, adding that neither of the two witnesses said that they saw Rice’s moments immediately before the shooting. Experts hired by law enforcement and Rice’s family came to “conflicting opinions” about whether the shooting was justified.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Tim McGinty declined to bring charges against Loehmann and Garmback in 2015.
Loehmann was later fired from the Cleveland Police Department in 2017 due to be being deemed “unfit for duty,” according to The Associated Press.