A Cuyahoga County (Ohio) grand jury has refused to indict the police officers who were involved in the shooting and killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice last year in Cleveland. The Plain Dealer has coverage here. Interestingly, the Rice Family’s attorneys recently sent a letter to Attorney General Lynch, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, asking them to open a federal criminal investigation into the matter. The Plain Dealer’s coverage, including the letter, is here. The USAO at NDOH has said it will review the request (though this will likely go through the Civil Rights Division in DC).
I am confident that the DOJ will also review the case, and I am confident that it will not be because of the request from the Rice Family’s lawyers. It would have made some sense to wait until the local grand jury process was completed first, and now that that has occurred – and no indictment is forthcoming – I fully expect DOJ to proceed, and to consider the case under both 18 U.S.C. 241 and 242. From what I know at this time about the case, I would not bet on a federal grand jury indictment.
The Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division is full of excellent lawyers. It is, however, a relatively small shop. With all of the attention being given to police uses of force around the country, I’m wondering if the Criminal Section has earned an increase in its portion of the DOJ’s budget.