Little-Used Ohio Law Invoked in Tamir Rice Case

Frustrated activists want to bypass prosecutors
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2015 4:23 AM CDT
Updated Jun 9, 2015 6:51 AM CDT
Little-Used Ohio Law Invoked in Tamir Rice Case
A protester holds up a picture of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot after brandishing what turned out to be a replica gun.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

(Newser) – It has been more than six months since a rookie cop shot a 12-year-old boy to death in Cleveland—and community leaders are tired of waiting for prosecutors to act. They plan to use a little-known and little-used Ohio law to go directly to a judge to have the officers involved arrested for the murder of Tamir Rice, the New York Times reports. The leaders plan to bypass police and prosecutors by filing citizens' affidavits today. "Here we are taking some control of the process as citizens," Walter Madison, a lawyer for the Rice family, tells the Times. "We are going to participate without even changing the law," he adds, noting that similar cases that went to grand juries ended up "unfavorable to the families."

Community leaders say that there's a conflict of interest in officer-involved shooting cases because cops work closely with prosecutors, the Times notes, but authorities say the Rice case will end up before a grand jury even if there is an arrest. A spokesman for the prosecutor tells Cleveland.com that the grand jury "ultimately makes the charging decision in all fatal use of deadly force cases that involve law enforcement officers." In a statement to Fox 8, the chief of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association called the move an "attempt to totally disrespect and disregard our justice system" and warned such efforts would worsen the "increasing lawlessness of an emboldened criminal element." (Ex-cop Michael Slager was indicted yesterday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man.)

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