Kasich: protesters 'need to be heard' after Tamir Rice decision

By Ann Marie Awad  |  Dec. 30, 2015 at 11:11 AM
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NASHUA, N.H., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- On the presidential campaign trail, Ohio Gov. John Kasich said protesters in Cleveland, Oh., decrying the decision not to indict a police officer in the death 12-year-old Tamir Rice "need to be heard."

As protests bubble up in Kasich's home state, he told reporters at a campaign stop in Nashua, N.H., that he hopes demonstrators remain peaceful.

"The message is that you need to be heard," he said. "In America we are a place that was born in the area of protesting. I mean, protesting is an American way of life. We just want to make sure that protests don't slip into something that sets everybody back."

Rice was killed by a police officer who was called to the scene after reports of a gunman. Rice reportedly had a pellet gun in the waistband of his pants, and when he reached for it, officers fired on the boy. A grand jury declined to indict the officer who killed Rice, sparking outrage in a year filled with similar stories of police killing unarmed black men.

"The decision is made and I don't need to be commenting on grand jury decisions," Kasich said. "It's a terrible tragedy. We're monitoring it. I am. I talked to our public safety director today. There are going to be protests—that's to be expected. I believe the leaders in Cleveland absolutely believe that violence in reaction to this decision is not appropriate."

NBC News reported a Justice Department investigation is underway into whether or not a civil rights violation took place.

Kasich said he is looking into the details of the case, such as the communication between dispatchers and officers. The dispatcher in Rice's case attempted to notify the officer that Rice's gun was likely a toy, but the message evidently did not make it to the officer in time. Kasich added that the Ohio Supreme Court's Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor is "looking at the issue of grand juries and how can grand juries be improved."

Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed a law barring secret grand juries from cases dealing with the use of deadly force by police, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Kasich affirmed that while he's on the campaign trail, he is constantly checking in with Ohio officials to assess the fallout from the case.

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