By Richard Perez-Pena and Mitch Smith
A judge in Cleveland ruled Thursday that probable cause existed to charge two Cleveland police officers in the death of a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, but also said he did not have the power to order the arrests without a complaint being filed by a prosecutor.
This week, a group of activists and community leaders asked the Municipal Court to have the officers, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, arrested under a little-used Ohio law that allows “a private citizen having knowledge of the facts” to start the process by filing an affidavit with a court. They argued that the widely seen video of an officer killing Tamir had given nearly everyone “knowledge of the facts.”
On Thursday, Judge Ronald B. Adrine issued an order saying that probable cause existed to charge the officers, and “this court determines that complaints should be filed by the prosecutor of the City of Cleveland and/or the Cuyahoga County prosecutor.” What weight the order carries with the prosecutors is unclear.
The ruling puts prosecutors in a difficult position, deciding whether to bring charges in a high-profile case when a judge has already said that probable cause exists to do so.
In a statement, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Timothy J. McGinty, said the case, “as with all other fatal use of deadly force cases involving law enforcement officers, will go to the grand jury.”