The family of a black Cleveland 12-year-old shot and killed by police last year renewed their call for justice Tuesday as county detectives took over an investigation into the killing.
A white Cleveland police officer, Timothy Loehmann, fatally shot Tamir Rice almost immediately after pulling up at a playground near Rice's home where the boy was playing with a pellet gun on Nov. 22. The incident was captured on surveillance video.
Last week, Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson asked the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department to take over the investigation, saying that he was skeptical that state investigators would be transparent enough. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office will review the case once the investigation is complete. Cleveland is in Cuyahoga County.
Jackson cited the state’s investigation of the 2012 police shooting of two unarmed people, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, in which he was critical of Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine’s public release of evidence from the case.
At a Tuesday news conference, Rice's mother, Samaria Rice, spoke briefly, telling reporters "it doesn't matter" who handles the investigation, but that her family is most concerned about accountability for her son's death.
“We are cautiously optimistic that it will be a thorough, fair investigation into the death of Tamir Rice, and we sincerely hope it answers some questions these parents have about the death of their child,” attorney Benjamin Crump told reporters at the televised news conference.
A police department in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, where Loehmann had previously worked, had described his behavior during handgun training as "distracted" and "weepy" and recommended firing him, according to records obtained by local media.
A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, John O'Brien, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that the department had received the shooting investigation and said he had no information on when it might be completed.
The sheriff's investigation will be led by Chief Clifford Pinkney, the department's No. 2 in command and first black chief.
“This decision to turn the investigation over was made to ensure that transparency and an extra layer of separation and impartiality were established,” Jackson said in a statement last week. “I believe that the best way to ensure accountability in a use-of-force investigation is to have it completed by an outside agency.”
A representative of the Cleveland Police Department could not immediately be reached for comment.
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