CLEVELAND (AP) — Family members of a 12-year-old black boy who was carrying a pellet gun when he was fatally shot by a white police officer gathered Sunday for a vigil in Cleveland one year later.
People prayed and observed a moment of silence at the Cudell Recreation Center area where Tamir Rice was shot a year ago. Organizers said 12 doves, one for each year of his life, were released.
The vigil was among several events in Cleveland and in other cities marking the Nov. 22, 2014, shooting. Tamir died the next day. Some 60 people, including his mother and sister, also took part in a commemoration Saturday at the recreation center.
A grand jury is hearing testimony to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the rookie patrolman who shot Tamir and his training officer. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty has said he hasn’t reached any conclusions about charges.
U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland, said the community awaits answers.
“Reaching a decision in this case has taken far too long,” she said in a statement Sunday. She said she was pleased the case has finally moved to a grand jury.
McGinty has drawn criticism for releasing reports from three outside experts that found that patrolman Timothy Loehmann was justified in shooting.
Tamir was playing with a borrowed airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic pellets, when someone called 911. The gun bore a striking resemblance to a real firearm, in part because its tell-tale orange tip had been removed.
Footage recorded by a surveillance camera showed Loehmann shooting Tamir within two seconds of a patrol car skidding to a stop just feet from the boy. Questions remain about whether Loehmann told Tamir to raise his hands before firing two shots, one of which struck Tamir.
The deaths of Tamir and other black males at the hands of police in other cities have sparked protests and outrage.