LEXINGTON, S.C., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- When asked for his thoughts on the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said "the process worked."
Bush was speaking to reporters at a town hall in Lexington, S.C., Thursday. One reporter asked him to weigh in on the Rice case.
"As you know, the officers that killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice were not indicted," she said. " So I'm wondering if you think that people in those communities, those of Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland -- do you feel those people feel we have their back?"
"I think that Chicago's got a lot of work to do to rebuild trust. The level of violence is abhorrent," Bush responded."
Rice's shooting took place in Cleveland, Ohio, and when the reporter corrected Bush, he said: "I'm sorry, my bad."
"In every community where you have these cases, elected officials and the police chief need to engage with the community to rebuild trust," he continued. "If there is a grand jury that looks at all the facts and doesn't indict maybe there's reasons for that. I don't believe that every grand jury is racist."
Bush then went on to criticize the Obama administration for opening civil rights investigations into the deaths of young black men like Rice at the hands of police.
"There's been lots of cases where he goes out and calls for an investigation and turns out nothing, there's nothing there, no civil rights violations or any of the civil violations that he had jurisdiction over," he said. "So, I think there should be more caution by using the federal government's power and more focus on trying to rebuild trust from the bottom up."
The Department of Justice has opened up a civil rights investigation into Rice's death. A previous investigation into the case of Michael Brown, who died at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., last year, turned up no civil rights complaints. However, another report issued the same day found the Ferguson Police Department "engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution."
The Justice Department is currently investigating the death of Freddie Gray, who died earlier this year from injuries he sustained while in the custody of Baltimore police. An investigation is also underway into the death of Eric Garner, a man who died in Staten Island, N.Y., last year when police placed him in a choke hold.