By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The mother of a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by Cleveland police in a playground last year demands that a special prosecutor take over the case, her lawyer said on Thursday, days after prosecutors released reports that might clear the officer.
"The prosecutor released purported 'expert' reports that ignored crucial facts and were skewed in favor of exonerating the officers," the lawyer, Subodh Chandra, said in a statement.
Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, and Chandra plan to discuss the release of the reports at a news conference on Friday. Rice will then deliver a letter to Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy McGinty outlining her reasons why she believes he should allow a special prosecutor to take over the case, Chandra said.
McGinty on Saturday night released reports, one by a retired FBI agent and another by an out-of-state prosecutor, that concluded the officer's Nov. 22, 2014 shooting of Rice within seconds of arriving at the park was reasonable under current law.
Activists and Rice's family criticized the late Saturday release of the reports as a ploy to provide cover if a grand jury absolves the officers in his shooting.
Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann shot Tamir Rice twice in the abdomen after responding to a 911 call of a man brandishing a handgun outside a recreation center. The officers responding were not told by 911 dispatchers that the caller had said it might be a child with a fake gun.
Tamir Rice had a replica handgun that typically fires pellets. He died the next day.
Joe Frolik, a spokesman for McGinty, said a scene reconstruction and the reports by former FBI agent Kim Crawford and Denver's Senior Chief Deputy District Attorney S. Lamar Sims were released to provide transparency in the high profile case.
"We are still in the investigation and analysis stage on this case. Contrary to what some people may believe, we have an open mind and have not come to any conclusions," Frolik said.
"The grand jury ultimately will decide what to do based on the evidence and the law," he said. "There is no reason for Prosecutor McGinty to step aside from this matter."
All cases of police use of lethal force in the county are heard by a grand jury. It is not known when the Rice case will be presented.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Grant McCool)