By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The family of a 12-year-old boy fatally shot last year by a Cleveland police officer as he held a replica handgun in a park criticized what they called delays in an investigation and on Monday renewed calls for officers to be charged in his death.
Tamir Rice was playing with a replica handgun that mainly shoots plastic pellets when he was shot by the officer less than two seconds after a squad car arrived at a park outside a recreation center in November. Rice died the next day.
"How long do I have to wait for justice?" Rice's mother, Samaria Rice, told a news conference outside the building that houses the county prosecutor's office.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has said the shooting evidence will be presented to a grand jury when the Cuyahoga County sheriff completes an investigation.
Attorneys representing Rice's family have accused officials of dragging their feet and have said a security camera video of the shooting provides enough information to charge the officer who shot Rice and another who was present that day.
"The video captures the whole episode and yet after five months and counting no one has been charged and no one has been held accountable and it breaks his mother's heart," attorney Benjamin Crump said at the news conference.
Rice's family has filed a federal suit against the city of Cleveland and the two officers involved. Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot Rice, and Frank Garmback, who was driving the police squad car, are white. Rice was black.
Rice's shooting, and officer-involved deaths of unarmed black men in New York, Missouri, South Carolina and Maryland have hastened a debate over police use of force in the United States, especially involving minorities.
A U.S. Justice Department report released in December concluded that Cleveland police have routinely used excessive force. The city is negotiating reforms that could include outside monitoring.
(Editing by David Bailey and Eric Walsh)