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Grand Jury Will Hear Case of Tamir Rice, 12-Year-Old Killed by Cop

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A grand jury in Cleveland will decide whether to charge an officer who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy holding a toy gun at a park over the weekend, officials said Monday. Investigators have obtained video evidence of the moment a Cleveland police officer shot Tamir Rice, police chief Calvin Williams said at a news conference Monday. The video is not yet being released, but Cleveland Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said it showed the officer was "very close" when he fired the two shots at the boy's torso. Two officers were involved in the incident, but only one of them fired a gun.

All evidence, including the video, will be considered in an ongoing investigation before it is presented to a grand jury, Williams said. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office, which is overseeing the case, has a policy of presenting all fatal police shootings to a grand jury. "These cases are so serious, so important, that there should be a citizen review," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty said Monday.

Audio of an initial 911 call indicates that a witness told a dispatcher twice that he thought the gun might not be real. "It's probably fake," the caller said. The perceived firearm was in fact an "airsoft" gun, which shoots pellets in a similar way that a BB gun does. An orange marking designed to distinguish toy guns from real ones had been removed, according to police.

In anticipation of a grand jury decision in the fatal police shooting of Missouri teen Michael Brown, Williams said Cleveland had a "plan in place" if protests broke out over events in Ferguson or Tamir's death. "This city and this division is known for allowing people to express their first amendment rights," Calvin said, urging protesters to "do it within the law — period."

Anonymous, an online "hacktivist" group that has been active in the political debate over Brown's death, has already claimed responsibility for the apparent shutdown of the City of Cleveland's website Monday. "RIP #TamirRice, murdered by (Cleveland Police) at 12 yrs old," the group wrote in a tweet.

IN-DEPTH

— Elisha Fieldstadt

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