A Cleveland activist group plans to use an obscure Ohio state law that allows citizens with knowledge of the facts of a case to compel a judge to issue an arrest warrant for two officers involved in the Nov. 22 shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Rice was killed by a Cleveland officer answering a call of a person with a pistol. The "pistol" turned out to be an airsoft replica.
The group is expected to file several affidavits Tuesday seeking charges of murder and manslaughter against the two officers. The move is an attempt to sidestep Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty who will present the case to a grand jury, a process that could take weeks.
The head of the police union that represents Cleveland police blasted the attempt to circumvent the prosecutor. Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association called the move a dangerous and selfish attempt to "hijack rule of law," the Cleveland.com reports.
Community leaders and attorneys for Tamir's family have complained about the length of the investigation, now nearing its sixth month. The investigation was turned over to McGinty's office just last week after the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department announced it had completed an independent fact-gathering investigation.
While officials remained uncertain how the rarely invoked legal move would proceed, Loomis said it could set a dangerous precedent that could compromise the integrity of the judicial system.
"Trying to coerce public officials into filing a criminal charge under direct or indirect threat of mob rule is a very dangerous game," he said.