Tamir Rice’s family is requesting that President Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) reopen an investigation into his murder, which occurred in 2014 when he was 12 years old and was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer.
Rice’s lawyers wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday, pleading with him to reopen the investigation, which the Trump administration closed last year.
The family hopes that the DOJ will conduct a comprehensive investigation and consider charging the officers involved in his death.
“The election of President Biden, your appointment, and your commitment to the rule of law, racial justice, and police reform give Tamir’s family hope that the chance for accountability is not lost forever,” the letter says. “We write on their behalf to request that you re-open this investigation and convene a grand jury to consider charges against the police officers who killed Tamir.”
Officer Timothy Loehmann shot Rice after responding to reports of a “guy with a pistol” aiming it at several people on a playground. The caller stated that the gun was most likely fake, and the man was most likely a minor.
Videos of the incident showed the officers exiting the vehicle with guns blazing. No charges have been filed against Loehmann or his partner, Frank Garmback.
After a local grand jury refused to press charges against the police, the DOJ launched an investigation in 2015.
In October, the New York Times announced that the FBI secretly ended the investigation in August 2019 by refusing calls for a grand jury to hear the case. The DOJ announced the conclusion of the investigation two months later, citing concerns with the accuracy of the footage analyzed.
Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, who runs a foundation in her son’s name, says it’s always a source of pain that no one has been held responsible for his death.
“Tamir would have been 19 years old in June. I’m still in so much pain because no one has been held accountable for the criminal act that took his life,” Samaria Rice said. “I’m asking DOJ to reopen the investigation into my son’s case; we need an indictment and conviction for Tamir’s death. I’m building his legacy. The Tamir Rice Foundation is very invested in the community and dedicated to creating change.”
Rice’s family has been begging someone to take the case seriously, according to Zoe Salzman, an attorney representing Rice’s family.
“To be fighting for justice, day after day, year after year, for some government system, some system of justice, to take the case seriously, to give it a reasonable chance to only apply the rule of law, and that has been refused to the Rice family again and again,” Salzman said.
The letter accuses former President Trump’s Department of Justice of issuing a “self-serving memo to attempt to defend its decision by deceptively making this case seem complex and impossible to prosecute,” according to the letter.
It reads: “The truth is that the actual facts, when stripped of pro-police bias, are indisputably straightforward.”
The letter further asks the Attorney General to “not turn a blind eye to what has occurred here.”
It continued, “This case deserves to be presented to a grand jury without the agenda of exonerating the officers,” the letter says. “Seek an indictment, and let the grand jury decide whether to do so. And, if they do, try the case so that this conduct can be judged impartially in a court of law, as justice requires.”