CLEVELAND — The city is hoping to hand over the investigation of a 12-year-old boy’s fatal shooting by police to an outside agency, as well as future investigations of all deadly use-of-force cases.
Michael McGrath, the city’s safety director and its former police chief, has been in talks with Cuyahoga County officials for the sheriff’s office to handle the inquiry, city spokesman Dan Ball told the Northeast Ohio Media Group for a story Thursday.
“We would like a different, outside agency to handle all deadly use of force cases,” Ball said.
For now, Cleveland police investigators are collecting evidence and conducting interviews related to the Nov. 22 shooting of Tamir Rice. The boy was carrying an airsoft gun that shoots nonlethal plastic pellets when a rookie officer shot him at a Cleveland playground.
Surveillance video released by police shows Tamir being shot less than two seconds after the patrol car stopped near him. Officer Timothy Loehmann told the boy to put his hands up, but he didn’t, according to police.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Jeff Follmer recently told The Associated Press that officers had no way of knowing the boy was carrying an airsoft gun that only looked like a real firearm.
Incoming Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish has participated in multiple meetings between Cleveland and sheriff’s officials since the shooting, said Dennis Williard, a spokesman for Budish’s transition team.
Whoever leads the investigation will give its evidence to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, whose office will present the case to a grand jury for possible criminal charges.
Cleveland police have come under outside scrutiny on other cases recently. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department released findings from a nearly two-year investigation of the agency, an inquiry that did not include Tamir’s shooting. The department concluded that officers use excessive and unnecessary force far too often.
In 2013, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said leadership and communications failures led to a chaotic 2012 police chase that ended with 13 officers firing 137 rounds and killing two unarmed people.
Tamir Rice’s family has sued the city in federal court, saying the two officers acted recklessly when they confronted the boy.