A US judge has ruled that evidence exists to charge two police officers in Cleveland, Ohio, over the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old black boy.
The judge’s ruling is largely symbolic because he cannot compel prosecutors to charge the officers in the death of Tamir Rice last November.

Judge Adrine said Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, whose shooting of Tamir was captured on video, should face charges including murder, involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide.

Loehmann’s partner, Frank Garmback, should face negligent homicide and dereliction of duty charges, he found.

The ruling came days after eight community leaders filed affidavits requesting action from the court in the death of Tamir, who was holding a replica gun when he was shot.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement on Thursday that the case will go to a grand jury, as is the policy for all police lethal force incidents.

Wheels of justice

In a statement regarding Adrine’s opinion, Rice’s family said: “We are grateful that the wheels of justice are starting to turn.”

Adrine was responding to a complaint filed under a little-used 1960 law that allows citizens to seek an arrest and criminal charges directly through the courts.

But the judge said he could not file charges or issue an arrest warrant in this case.

The county sheriff’s department completed its investigation of the shooting last week, without revealing any conclusions.

Cleveland’s police department agreed last month on a plan to minimise racial bias and the use of excessive force after the US Justice Department found a pattern of abuses against civilians by police.

Footage from a surveillance camera showed Tamir being shot by officer Loehmann within two seconds of a police car, driven by his partner Garmback, skidding to a stop near the boy.

The shooting of Tamir raised questions about how police treat blacks and spurred protests around the city.