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Kasich Says Tamir Rice Protesters ‘Need to be Heard’

NASHUA, N.H. -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Tuesday that those outraged by the decision not to indict a Cleveland police officer for the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice have a right to be heard, but urged the protesters to remain peaceful.

"The message is that you need to be heard," Kasich told reporters after a campaign stop here. "In America we are a place that was born in the area of protesting. I mean, protesting is an American way of life. We just want to make sure that protests don't slip into something that sets everybody back."

A grand jury on Monday declined to indict the officer who fatally shot Rice, a boy who was playing with a toy gun in Cleveland at the time of his death. The shooting in the fall of 2014 was captured on surveillance video and broadcast across the country, igniting outrage and some calls for police reforms.

Kasich Hopes Rice Protesters Don't Set Back City of Cleveland 0:40

"The decision is made and I don't need to be commenting on grand jury decisions," Kasich said. "It's a terrible tragedy. We're monitoring it. I am. I talked to our public safety director today. There are going to be protests—that's to be expected. I believe the leaders in Cleveland absolutely believe that violence in reaction to this decision is not appropriate."

The Justice Department is already reviewing whether there were any civil rights violations involved in the case.

"It's fine for everybody to take a look at this. Clearly when you lose a 12-year-old, I mean what more can you say about how tragic it is?" Kasich said. "Imagine how the family feels, the friends of the family. It's a tough a time as you could ever have in life. Our hearts go out to all of them. And we're going to keep working to try to improve this overall system."

Kasich said he asked his head of public safety to examine the communication between dispatchers and officers since "dispatchers have a very hard job, and some of the information that didn't get communicated may have ended up with a different result." He added that the Ohio Supreme Court's Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor is "looking at the issue of grand juries and how can grand juries be improved."

While Kasich is campaigning across New Hampshire, a state he sees as critical in his quest for the White House, he said he's been in constant phone contact with officials back in Ohio about the fallout from the case.