Cleveland’s mayor says he doesn’t trust the state of Ohio to investigate why police shot and killed a 12-year-old black boy because he doesn’t think they handled a previous investigation properly.
“I don’t think the state attorney general handled the east Cleveland shooting properly,” mayor Frank Jackson told reporters for Northeast Ohio Media Group on Sunday, referencing a November 2012 police shooting. “It wasn’t done in a way that I think gave me confidence that this would have been done properly. So that’s why we turned to the county.”
Tamir Rice was carrying a pellet gun near a recreation center when he was shot and killed in November. Police shot Rice in the abdomen seconds after arriving on scene in response to a 911 call that reported someone who was “ probably a juvenile ” was waving a gun that was “ probably fake ”.
“I don’t have confidence that a [state Bureau of Criminal Investigation] probe into police use-of-force would be a transparent, due-process kind of investigation,” said Jackson, according to Northeast Ohio Media Group . He instead called on the Cuyahoga County sheriff to investigate Rice’s death.
In November 2012, Cleveland police officers unleashed a barrage of 137 rounds onto two unarmed people following a high-speed chase through the city.
After an investigation by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine said the incident was the result of “systemic failure” in the city’s police department.
“Command failed, communications failed, the system failed,” DeWine told reporters for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland , while announcing the results of the state’s investigation in November 2013. “The system itself failed these officers.”
For his part, DeWine said he wasn’t interested in arguing with Jackson, and on Monday defended the results of the state’s earlier investigation, according to the Associated Press.
Other agencies outside of the state have also criticized the city’s police department department.
Criminal charges were brought against six police involved in the November 2012 shooting, a rare example of prosecution of police who acted in the line of duty. A patrolman was charged with homicide and five supervisors were charged with dereliction of duty. Proceedings against the officers are ongoing in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas court.
The city also paid $3m to the estates of the two people killed, Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, to settle a federal lawsuit.
A 600 case review by the US Department of Justice, released not long after Rice was shot found that police in Cleveland had on many occasions used excessive and unconstitutional force. The investigation was launched in March 2013 after several high profile incidents of police violence, including the November 2012 shooting.
In some of the most egregious findings, investigators said police repeatedly punched a 13-year-old suspect while handcuffed in the back of a police car, that police fired on a half-naked hostage fleeing his captor and that police too often fired upon or hit with guns suspects who posed no threat to police or others.
Jackson’s comments on Sunday were similar to those he made last month after the the Department of Justice released its report on the city’s police force.
“I just try to do the right thing, and wherever that leads me, I will go,” Jackson said during a 90-minute press conference after the report was released. “What I will not listen to are those with agendas, or those who use this tragedy to promote agendas.”
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