Ohio prosecutor Timothy McGinty accused the family of 12-year-old police shooting victim Tamir Rice of being “economically motivated” in their pursuit to bring the officer responsible to trial.
“They waited until they didn’t like the reports they received. They’re very interesting people… let me just leave it at that… and they have their own economic motives,” McGinty said during a community meeting Thursday, Cleveland’s WKYC reported.
McGinty’s remarks Thursday were his first public comments on the grand jury process regarding Rice’s death, raising questions about his objectivity in the case and its ongoing investigation.
The prosecutor’s office uncustomarily released expert reports in October, ahead of convening a grand jury, stating that Cleveland police officer Timothy Lehmann was justified in fatally shooting Rice only seconds after pulling up beside him in a public park in November 2014.
Rice family attorney, Subodh Chandra, denounced McGinty’s comments on Friday, saying, “It’s a shock and a surprise to Samaria Rice and her family that the prosecutor would go out of his way to insult her and her motives in trying to get justice as a grieving mother.”
Chandra further defended his client, who struggled with homelessness in the wake of her son’s death, and raised concerns that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor McGinty’s apparent partiality regarding the preteen’s murder has “compromised” the grand jury process:
Ms. Rice herself believes that the prosecutor has compromised the grand-jury process’s fairness by soliciting and personally vouching for so-called “experts” with discreditable backgrounds who (1) assumed the existence of non-existent testimony (the officers’ excuses for their actions), and (2) ignored critical evidence (such as Officer Loehmann shooting Tamir immediately and both officers leaving 12-year-old Tamir bleeding and dying on the ground without administering first aid).
The U.S. Department of Justice rejected one of the prosecutor’s chosen “expert’s” views, when she tried to exonerate law enforcement involved in killing civilians as too extreme. The other “expert” offered an opinion about Tamir’s death even before reviewing the evidence. Yet the prosecutor doubles down on praising them and then insults Ms. Rice and the counsel who are merely stating her concerns. The prosecutor thus cannot be trusted in the secret process to draw the grand jury’s attention to the flaws in the reports or the writers’ backgrounds.
McGinty’s office responded in an amended statement, claiming his initial comments were not meant to criticize Samaria Rice’s grieving process. “We have never once criticized Tamir’s mother or questioned her right to grieve in any way. We have met with her repeatedly and cooperated with her in every possible manner. And we will continue to do so.”