CLEVELAND (AP) — Family members of a 12-year-old black boy who was carrying a pellet gun when he was fatally shot by a white Cleveland police officer have gathered petitions demanding the county prosecutor's removal from the case.
Activists and family members of Tamir Rice on Monday delivered petitions they said contain thousands of signatures to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty's office. Monday marked a year since Rice's death. He was shot outside a recreation center on Nov. 22, 2014, and died the next day.
The Cuyahoga County prosecutor's office had no comment Tuesday other than a brief statement from prosecutor's spokesman Joseph Frolik.
"Citizens in the United States have a right to petition their government and to state their concerns on this or any other issue," Frolik said in a statement.
A grand jury is hearing testimony to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the rookie patrolman who shot Rice and his training officer. The boy's family, activists and others have repeatedly demanded that McGinty remove himself from the case. They have criticized the prosecutor for releasing outside experts' reports that found the officer justified in shooting.
McGinty has said that he hasn't reached any conclusions about charges in the shooting. He previously has refused to step down.
At a rally on Monday outside the county Justice Center, where McGinty has his office, Rice's cousin said the petitions demand a special prosecutor to replace McGinty on the case.
"Day in and day out, I plan on being down here demanding the recusal of prosecutor McGinty from the case," the boy's cousin, Latonya Goldsby said, according to Cleveland.com.
Rice was playing with an airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic pellets but resembles a real firearm, when someone called 911. Footage recorded by a surveillance camera showed patrolman Timothy Loehmann shooting the boy.
The deaths of Rice and other black males at the hands of police in other cities have sparked protests and outrage.