CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland’s mayor says he didn’t trust a state agency to investigate the fatal police shooting of a 12-year-old boy who was carrying a pellet gun, because he believes the agency mishandled the investigation of a different shooting that led to charges against officers and a settlement with the families of two people killed.
Mayor Frank Jackson explained Sunday how his thinking on the Tamir Rice case was influenced by the review of a November 2012 chase that ended with police killing two unarmed suspects in East Cleveland by firing 137 rounds at them, the Northeast Ohio Media Group (http://bit.ly/1vS1I2W) reported.
Jackson said the city decided to hand over the investigation of Tamir’s Nov. 22 shooting to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office because he wasn’t confident a proper, transparent investigation would be conducted if the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Ohio’s attorney general handled it.
“I don’t think the state attorney general handled the East Cleveland shooting properly,” said Jackson, a Democrat. “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.”
A U.S. Department of Justice review conducted after the East Cleveland chase found a pattern and practice of Cleveland officers using excessive force and violating people’s civil rights. Negotiations have begun on a court-ordered agreement to make changes within the police department.
Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican, on Monday defended how the East Cleveland case was investigated. He said his office was asked to take the lead and completed “a thorough investigation with a great deal of transparency” and that nothing has raised questions about the validity of that work.
“When we’re asked to take over a case, you know, we’re going to call it like we see it,” DeWine told The Associated Press.
DeWine declined to respond directly to Jackson’s comments, saying he doesn’t want to get into an argument with the mayor.
In the Tamir Rice case, Cleveland police asked the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to do only some forensic work, and it was expected to conclude early this week, DeWine said.
Rice was shot while carrying an airsoft gun that shot nonlethal plastic pellets. Surveillance video shows him being shot less than two seconds after the officer’s patrol car stopped nearby.
Police said the weapon looked like a real firearm and the boy didn’t obey an officer’s instructions to raise his hands.
Lawyers for Tamir’s family have said they’re optimistic about the sheriff’s office taking over the investigation. A prosecutor has promised to present the case to a grand jury.