CLEVELAND — The mother of a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a police officer while carrying a pellet gun said Tuesday it doesn't matter to her who investigates her son's death as long as the officer who killed the boy is held accountable.
At a news conference, Samaria Rice characterized the death of her son as a murder.
Tamir Rice was shot by a Cleveland police officer on Nov. 22 after police responded to a 911 call about someone with a gun outside a recreation center. The officer, Timothy Loehmann, shot Tamir within two seconds of the patrol car stopping near the boy. Tamir was carrying an airsoft-type gun that shoots nonlethal pellets.
City officials announced last week that police were handing over the investigation of the shooting to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department in the interest of being impartial and transparent. A previous use-of-force incident in which officers killed two unarmed suspects in 2012 was investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Mayor Frank Jackson said he asked the sheriff's department to take over the probe because he no longer trusts the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine concluded that a vehicle pursuit involving more than 60 police cars and the 137 rounds fired by officers at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams resulted from a "systemic failure" within the police department. One patrol officer was indicted on two counts of voluntary manslaughter and five supervisors were charged with dereliction of duty.
The completed investigation into Tamir's shooting is expected to be turned over to county prosecutors, who will present evidence to a grand jury to determine whether charges should be brought against Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, who was driving the patrol car.
Walter Madison, one of the attorneys for the boy's family, said there are unanswered questions about what Cleveland police investigators have done thus far.
"The family is entitled to an answer," he said.
Another family attorney, Benjamin Crump, added that there are concerns about the "symbiotic relationship" that exists between Cleveland police and prosecutors because they work closely together.
"They have no relationship with Tamir Rice," Crump said.