An Ohio sheriff looking into the death of a 12-year-old boy shot by two Cleveland police officers while he played with a replica gun said on Tuesday the investigation was mostly complete, but provided few details.
The brief statement to reporters from Cuyahoga County Sheriff Cliff Pinkney on the November death of Tamir Rice appeared to be in response to a demand last week for answers from Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, and family attorneys.
Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot Rice, and Frank Garmback, who was driving the police squad car, are white. Rice was black.
The incident was one of a series of killings of black people by white police officers that fueled national outrage over the use of force by law enforcement officers.
Pinkney said that his office could not review a redacted version of the city’s investigative file on the shooting until mid-February – more than a month after the sheriff was assigned the case. The redacted file lacked statements from police officers given as part of an internal review but which generally cannot be used in criminal prosecutions.
Prosecutors received both redacted and unredacted files in January, Pinkney said.
Rice, a sixth-grader, was playing with a replica handgun that mainly shoots plastic pellets when he was shot twice by police responding to a 911 emergency call about a man with a gun outside a recreation center. Rice died the next day.
A security camera video of the shooting shows Loehmann shooting Rice less than two seconds after the two officers’ squad car arrived.
Pinkney said that while it would be “politically expedient” to provide an arbitrary deadline to complete the investigation, he would not sacrifice the probe’s integrity to do that. He declined to take questions.
“All parties involved know that my department is conducting a fair, impartial and thorough investigation, one that leaves zero stones unturned,” said Pinkney.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty has said the shooting evidence will be presented to a grand jury when the sheriff completes his investigation.
Pinkney said his investigators have reviewed thousands of pages of documents and conducted numerous interviews, but a few more witnesses need to be interviewed.
Some family members shouted questions at Pinkney, including Tamir’s cousin, Latonya Goldsby.
“We want charges brought against these officers for their recklessness,” Goldsby later told reporters. “You can see in the video that they were totally reckless.”