Prosecutors usually prosecute. That’s their job. When it comes to prosecuting police, some act more like defense lawyers.
Cleveland police shot 12-year-0ld Tamir Rice within two seconds of stopping their cruiser a few feet from him. Rice was playing in a park with a toy gun. A citizen called the police and said he thought the person with a gun was a juvenile and the gun could be a toy. The dispatcher didn’t convey either of those points to the responding officers.
Prosecutors usually work closely with police. So when it comes time to see if they should be charged for shooting someone, the prosecutor can be resistant. That’s what happened in Ferguson.
Prosecutors put together a grand jury and they control the process and the information the jurors are exposed to. California, realizing there could be conflicts of interest, doesn’t allow grand juries to make decisions on charging the police in shootings. In the Cleveland case, the prosecutor brought in witnesses and evidence that pointed toward it being a “perfect storm of human error.” Tamir Rice’s mother described it more as a sabotage.
The defense centers on the police mistaking the fake gun as a real gun. But even then, should police shoot someone within two seconds? Tamir was playing with a toy gun. Some police shouldn’t be playing with real ones.
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