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In December, news broke that the Grand Jury in the Tamir Rice case where two police officers fatally shot a 12-year-old on camera declined to indict the officers but now it appears that they may not have voted on that decision at all. Cleveland Scene Weekly’s Eric Sandy, Vince Grzegorek and Sam Allard dug into the process and emerged more confused than ever. In December, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced that the Grand Jury “were told our recommendation, but they made the final decision” in not charging Cleveland Police Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback in Rice’s death.

When the reporters requested to see proof of that decision, oddly enough there was nothing to see. In a grand jury proceeding, if the group decides to bring criminal charges, they produce a “true bill,” which gets its own case number in the court process. If they decides against bringing charges, they produce a “no-bill,” which is signed, stamped and kept in the county clerk’s office for posterity. In this case, neither a true bill or a no-bill is on file.

After learning and confirming on Jan. 15 that there was no “no-bill notification” on file at the county clerk’s office for the Tamir Rice grand jury proceedings, Scene formally requested the document officially showing the decision, however it was reached, and wherever said document might be. We were told that it didn’t exist. Employees at both the clerk’s and prosecutor’s officers were unable to explain the lack of paperwork,” Cleveland Scene reports.

Scene called the prosecutor’s office for clarification, and a publicist named Joe Frolik told them “it’s technically not a no-bill, because they didn’t vote on charges…. This was an investigative grand jury. This was kind of their role. Sometimes, a grand jury, after its investigation, will decide if there are no votes to be taken on charges.” However, McGinty didn’t refer to the grand jury as investigative, and a local Case Western Reserve University law professor named Lewis Katz said that the grand jury in this trial was likely not investigative. He added that he was “stunned” the grand jury didn’t vote—if they didn’t, what was the point of the proceedings?

When reporters reached out to Judge Nancy McDonnell, who presided over the Grand Jury, about the missing vote records, her office didn’t seem to have the paperwork either and declined to comment. So the guys headed to the Cuyahoga County grand jury office, where they were told that even if there were records to share—which there weren’t—they wouldn’t be able to see them without a court order from an Administrative and Presiding Judge named John J. Russo. They called Russo, who was just as baffled as everyone else but his office ultimately found that there was no “no bill” to be found. Russo promised to get more information from Judge McDonnell in a judges meeting on Wednesday but Scene has yet to hear back from anyone.

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  • Me

    In a way, I’m relieved to know that these people didn’t willfully disregard the murder of a 12 year old, and I’m hopeful that this may spark another Grand Jury to be called. But my stomach is still in knots over the entire situation, though.

  • Objection

    I wonder what excuse the U.S. Department of Justice is going to come up with for not investigating this kangaroo court? Who watches the watchers?

  • [email protected]

    This story shows the disrespect shown to Tamir Rice and his family by the police and legal authorities. A black child was murdered by a brute when that murderer should have never been a cop in the first place. The confusion of documentation represents the intentional disregard of transparency involving police brutality. I certainly want justice and that entails that murderer to be prosecuted and sent into prison unequivocally.

  • Adebisi’s Hat

    Yet another example of the profound rot at the heart of the American justice system. I hate to be a pessimist, but I just don’t see how there’s ever going to be any real legal reform. Without dismantling the systemic discrimination inherent in the process, there’s simply no chance this country and its people will be able to move forward peacefully and productively.

  • Marmaduke

    Wow. WowWowWow. I shouldn’t be surprised and yet it’s just mind blowing to me that an entire Grand Jury can’t produce documents of their actions. Kangaroo court indeed.

    Apart from actual real reform and change (something unfortunately I don’t think I’ll see in my lifetime, and I’m in my mid20s), I do think some investigative journalists need to take just one of these murder stories and give it the serial/making a murderer treatment. Not so much for the publicity, but so we have on film a systematic run through, from start to finish, of the buffoonery. They could probably close their eyes and run down the list and still wind up with a sickening story of police and judicial ineptitude running amok.

    Maybe for those that “don’t get it” it’ll spur something like humanity in their brains.