Sheriff concludes probe of Cleveland police shooting of 12-year-old

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 03, 2015 3:56 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - An investigation into the police shooting death of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy has been completed and transferred to the county prosecutor, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department said on Wednesday, without revealing any conclusions.

The city of Cleveland in January had handed over the investigation into the death of Tamir Rice to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department in accordance with local rules on cases involving police use of lethal force.

Rice was shot while he played with a fake handgun that shoots plastic pellets outside a city recreation center on Nov. 22, 2014.

Rookie police officer Timothy Loehmann shot him twice within two seconds of arriving at the scene with his partner Frank Garmback, responding to a 911 emergency call about a man with a gun outside the recreation center. Rice, a sixth-grader, died the next day.

Sheriff Clifford Pinkney said in a statement that the investigation was thorough and unbiased, but did not provide any details.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has said the shooting evidence will be presented to a grand jury when the sheriff's department's investigation was completed.

Rice's death was one of a series of killings of black people by white police officers that fueled national outrage over the use of force by law-enforcement officers. Rice was black and Loehmann and Garmback are white.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver granted the two officers a 60-day stay in a wrongful death suit filed by Rice's family in December. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case had asked the judge to stay the civil lawsuit so it does not interfere with the possible criminal investigation.

Last month, protests erupted in the city after the acquittal of Michael Brelo, a white Cleveland police officer involved in the shooting deaths of a black man and woman after a high-speed chase.

An attorney for the Rice family, Walter Madison, said his clients were worried about the transfer to the prosecutor, in light of the Brelo acquittal.

"We think justice would be best served with an outside independent investigation," Madison said. "Both the sheriff's department and prosecutor's office are county employees."

Last week officials said the Cleveland police department has agreed to train officers to minimize racial bias and the use of excessive force in a deal with the U.S. Justice Department after a pattern of abuses was detailed in a report last year.

(Editing by Fiona Ortiz)