A Cleveland judge ruled on Thursday that a probable cause existed with which to charge two Cleveland police officers over the death of a 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice.
In his ruling, Judge Ronald B. Adrine, presiding judge of the Municipal Court, said Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann should face charges including murder, involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide in an opinion that puts pressure on prosecutors to pursue the case.
He also found probable cause to charge police officer Loehmann’s partner, officer Frank Garmback, with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.
However, the judge’s opinion will not lead to an arrest without a complaint being filed by a prosecutor.
“This court is mindful that despite any conclusion it draws... its role here is advisory in nature,” Judge Adrine wrote.
The shooting of Rice is one of several recent cases of killings of unarmed black males by police officers around the country which prompted widespread protests and calls for reform in race relations and the use of force by police.
The two Cleveland officers involved in the shooting are white, and Rice was black.
"We are grateful that the wheels of justice are starting to turn," Rice’s family said in a statement regarding Adrine's opinion.
The news came after a string of cases over the past year reignited a public outcry over police conduct and police brutality in the US.
Last year saw the deaths of unarmed black men during confrontations with police in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, Baltimore and elsewhere which spawned protests and occasional violent outbursts across the United States.