Here we go again with a prosecutor abusing the grand jury process. Sounds a whole lot like Ferguson redux and a replay of what Bob McCulloch pulled in the Michael Brown case. From Democracy Now: Prosecutors in Tamir Rice Case Accused of Rigging Grand Jury to Clear 2 Officers with Troubled Past:
After the grand jury’s decision not to indict, Tamir Rice’s mother Samaria Rice accused the prosecutor of "deliberately sabotag[ing] the case, never advocating for my son, and acting instead like the police officers’ defense attorney." Attorneys for the Rice family have asked the Justice Department to intervene over what they call "extreme bias" and "a charade process aimed at exonerating the officers."
Questions have also been raised about the officers’ past. In a previous stint at a different Ohio police department, Timothy Loehmann, who fatally shot Tamir, had been declared unfit for duty and "dismal" with his handgun. His fellow responding officer, Frank Garmback, also has a troubled history, with Cleveland paying $100,000 to a city resident who accused him of excessive force. We discuss the officers’ past and the prosecutors’ conduct with Rice family attorney Billy Joe Mills.
From the transcript:
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask about the earlier reports that emerged that the officer responsible for Tamir Rice’s death, Timothy Loehmann, was deemed unfit for police service over two years ago when he worked in the suburb of Independence. A letter from a superior specifically criticizes Loehmann’s performance in firearms training, saying, quote, "He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal."
Meanwhile, Officer Frank Garmback, the officer who was driving the police cruiser, also has, to say the least, a troubled history. Cleveland reportedly paid out $100,000 to a Cleveland resident named Tamela Eaton to settle an excessive force lawsuit brought against Garmback. The settlement stemmed from a 2010 confrontation in which Eaton said Garmback, quote, "rushed her, placed her in a chokehold, tackled her to the ground, twisted her wrist and began hitting her body."
Billy Joe Mills, does this have any bearing on Tamir Rice’s case? I mean, start with Loehmann, the man who shot Tamir Rice. He’s forced out of a department because he had low impulse control and because his handling of handguns was appalling.
BILLY JOE MILLS: That’s right. He was forced out of a department that also was a suburban police department, a police department in which you would not expect there to be as many tense, high—you know, high-impulse situations as the city of Cleveland.
And yet, the city of Cleveland completely neglected to even look into his employment record, and they have now gone back and looked at the hiring process and disciplined, I believe it was, the two hiring officers that were responsible for bringing Officer Loehmann on board. And so, that’s Officer Loehmann, completely unfit to even handle a weapon, completely unfit to be in that situation to begin with.
Then, Officer Garmback, who was the driver of that vehicle, he was training Officer Loehmann at that time. Let’s not forget, Officer Garmback, the driver, created the danger by driving right up to Tamir. He’s the one that had more experience. He drove right up to Tamir and created the danger that they then saw fit to shoot their way out of.
AMY GOODMAN: And the issue of this unusual grand jury process, Billy Joe Mills, can you explain why it’s unusual?
BILLY JOE MILLS: Yes. If you’ve got another hour to give me, Amy, I can go over everything with you, but I’ll give you the highlights. First of all, the officers have criminal defense attorneys. They ignored their attorney’s advice to remain silent in the grand jury process. So what they did is they wrote prepared statements.
They took the oath in front of the grand jury and then read those statements to the grand jury. What’s extremely unusual here is that, any other situation, if these were not police officers, the prosecutor would be salivating at the opportunity to then cross-examine the people who waived their Fifth Amendment right, because that’s what they did there. They waived their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. So, that’s one big thing.
Second big thing, Prosecutor McGinty hired three experts, all of whom concluded that this was a justified shooting. Those experts would be normally selected by the defense attorneys, the attorneys representing the police officers.
There is not any randomness. When an attorney hires an expert, there is no randomness in it. Any attorney in this country that is worth, you know, a pint of beer an hour knows exactly what their experts are going to say before they are hired.
Sadly as he noted, the chances of winning a civil rights investigation look pretty slim as well:
AMY GOODMAN: And have you been speaking to the Department of Justice? Will there be a civil rights investigation?
BILLY JOE MILLS: We put together an extensive letter to the Department of Justice. It attached all of our complaints, showing all of the irregularities and unprecedented behavior of the prosecutor. And they are currently reviewing our request. But we don’t have any further information at this time, unfortunately.
AMY GOODMAN: Could another grand jury be convened?
BILLY JOE MILLS: Yes, not under Prosecutor McGinty, but, yes, that is possible.
AMY GOODMAN: And who would be the prosecutor in that case? And is there precedent for this?
BILLY JOE MILLS: Well, again, this entire thing has been incredibly unusual and unprecedented, to have a prosecutor acting as defense attorney and doing everything that he’s done, insulting the family, talking about the family having financial incentives for seeking criminal accountability.
You know, there are—it could come from a future prosecutor. It could come from a special prosecutor being appointed, there being some kind of intervention, perhaps intervention from, you know, the state’s attorney general, Mike DeWine. You know, there are a couple of possibilities.
We’re not—we don’t think there’s particularly high hope for any of those possibilities at this time, but we’re definitely going to be exploring every single possible avenue that is available.