CLEVELAND (AP) — A white Cleveland police officer had no choice but to fatally shoot a 12-year-old black boy carrying a pellet gun, an expert on police use of force said in a report released publicly Thursday by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
Retired Florida police officer W. Ken Katsaris is the third expert who has concluded that patrolman Timothy Loehmann was justified in shooting Tamir Rice outside a Cleveland recreation center Nov. 22, 2014.
The release of the latest report comes at a time when a county grand jury is hearing evidence from prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Loehmann, who was a rookie a year ago, and his training officer, patrolman Frank Garmback.
“This unquestionably was a tragic loss of life,” Katsaris wrote. “But to compound the tragedy by labeling the officers’ conduct as anything but objectively reasonable would also be a tragedy.”
Katsaris testified for the prosecution at the trial of white Cleveland patrolman Michael Brelo, who was charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter for firing the final 15-rounds of a 137-shot barrage that killed two unarmed, black people at the end of a high-speed chase three years ago. A judge acquitted Brelo of the charges in May.
Attorneys for the family of Tamir Rice have been incensed by the release of the expert reports and have called for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty to step aside and allow a special prosecutor to take over the case. The attorneys have said the experts, including Katsaris, are clearly biased in favor of police.
“Regrettably, with the release of yet another utterly biased and shamelessly misguided ‘expert report’ the County Prosecutor is making clear his intention to protect the police from accountability under the criminal laws, rather than diligently prosecute them,” attorney Jonathan Abady of New York said in a statement Thursday.