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Tamir Rice Shooting: Clergy Calls for Prosecutor to Step Down

by Erik Ortiz /  / Updated 

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A group of Cleveland clergymen are demanding the county prosecutor in the Tamir Rice case "step aside" — nearly a year after the 12-year-old was killed by cops, with still no decision on criminal charges.

The clergy members, speaking at a news conference Thursday, cited the recent case of 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis, who was killed by two cops in a Louisiana car chase, as a stark contrast to the perceived lack of justice for Rice.

The officers in that shooting, Derrick Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr., were arrested Friday — three days after the incident — and charged with second-degree murder. Body camera video led to their arrests, officials said.

There was also surveillance footage in the shooting of Rice on Nov. 22 outside of a Cleveland recreation center. Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback were responding to calls that the boy had a handgun — and say they hadn't realized it was a toy pellet gun missing an orange safety tip.

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Rice was shot two seconds after the officers arrived. They said the boy reached inside his waistband.

"Why in God’s name does it take an entire year to get justice for this child?" the Rev. William Myers, of the New Mount Zion Baptist Church, asked Thursday.

A grand jury will determine whether Loehmann, who pulled the trigger, faces criminal charges in Rice's death.

A letter has been sent to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty calling for him to recuse himself and appoint an independent prosecutor in the controversial case. The clergy members are taking issue with McGinty's comments after a politically sponsored event last week.

Related: Two Reports Conclude Officer's Shooting Was Justified

McGinty, when informed that Rice's mother, Samaria Rice, wants a special prosecutor to oversee the case, told NBC affiliate WKYC that the family members are "interesting people" and "they have their own economic motives."

The comments outraged the family's supporters, and McGinty's office later said he was not referring to Samaria Rice and "have never once criticized Tamir's mother or questioned her right to grieve in any way."

The clergymen said Friday that McGinty can no longer be trusted. "A loss on confidence in the integrity of how the case is being handled further erodes the fabric of trust in the criminal justice system and those sworn to work on behalf of the public."

McGinty did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

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