By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A grand jury has been hearing testimony for the last few weeks in the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy by a Cleveland police officer in a playground last November, the president of the police union said on Tuesday.
Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy McGinty had said a grand jury would be convened in the death of Tamir Rice, who was shot by an officer seconds after police responded to a report of a person waving a handgun. As it turned out Rice had a replica handgun that typically fires pellets.
A grand jury has heard testimony from police officers on the Nov. 22, 2014, shooting, said Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association.
The Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office declined to comment on the grand jury proceedings.
Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann shot 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 dispatchers that the caller had said it might be a child with a fake gun. The child died the next day.
Lawyers for Rice's family have called for charges to be filed against Loehmann and his partner.
Lawyer Subodh Chandra said on Tuesday the family had not been told about the start of the proceedings, has lost confidence in McGinty's handling of the process and wants a special prosecutor appointed.
The prosecutor's office earlier in October released two expert reports that might clear the officer, drawing criticism from activists and a demand from Rice's mother, Samaria Rice, for a special prosecutor.
The reports by a retired FBI agent and by an out-of-state prosecutor concluded that the shooting of Rice was reasonable under current law.
Joe Frolik, a spokesman for McGinty, has 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 case.
According to the prosecutor's office, three grand juries were seated in September and will meet through December. Each grand jury includes 14 citizens and meets twice a week.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by David Bailey and Grant McCool)