The Slatest

Cleveland Activists Use Rarely Cited Law to Directly Request Arrests in Tamir Rice Case

A May protest at the Cuddell Recreation Center—near where Tamir Rice was killed—after the acquittal of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo in a different police shooting case.

Ricky Rhodes/Getty

Cleveland activists and civic leaders have formally asked a judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of the police officers involved in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, taking advantage of an Ohio law that allows citizens to file requests for prosecution.*

“Ohio law allows anyone with ‘knowledge of the facts’ to file a court affidavit and ask a judge to issue an arrest warrant,” the New York Times writes. “If approved, the arrest would be followed by a public hearing.” Per, the activists’ approach would expedite the process by which the case is brought before a grand jury; county prosecutors reportedly plan to eventually take such an action, but at the moment say they are continuing to investigate Rice’s death. Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback were at the scene of the incident, and Loehmann fired the fatal shots.

CNN refers to the documents that were filed as “citizens’ affidavits for probable cause.” The Rev. Jawanza Colvin, a pastor at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, spoke on behalf of the group that filed the affadavits in several news stories; some of the other individuals involved include an NAACP official, a Case Western history professor, and Rice family attorney Walter Madison. The gambit’s likelihood of success is unclear, as the law in question doesn’t appear to have ever been cited in such a high-profile case.

*Correction, June 11, 2015: This post originally misstated that a judge had been asked to arrest officers Loehmann and Garmback. The judge was asked to issue a warrant for their arrest; his response to that request is described here.