Sheriff: Probe of Cleveland police shooting of boy nears end

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CLEVELAND (AP) — The investigation into a police officer's shooting of a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun in November is nearly complete, a sheriff said Tuesday.

Cuyahoga County Sheriff Clifford Pinkney said investigators still have a few more witnesses to interview about the shooting of Tamir Rice outside a Cleveland recreation center. The completed investigation will be turned over to the county prosecutor, he said.

"And while it would be politically expedient to impose an arbitrary deadline, for the sake of the integrity of this investigation, I am not willing to do that," Pinkney said, reading from a prepared statement.

The sheriff's department took over the investigation from the city in January. Investigators have examined thousands of documents and have conducted "numerous" search warrants and witness interviews, Pinkney said.

The fatal shooting on Nov. 22 drew national attention when the city released footage from a surveillance camera that showed rookie patrolman Timothy Loehmann, who is white, shooting Tamir within two seconds of a police cruiser stopping near the boy. Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, were responding to a 911 call about a man waving a gun.

Tamir, who was black, was carrying an Airsoft-type gun that shoots nonlethal plastic pellets. Less than two weeks after the shooting, then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that a monthslong investigation by the Department of Justice had concluded that Cleveland police had engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force and violating people's civil rights.

Walter Madison, an attorney for Tamir's family, said Tuesday that he can't understand why the investigation has taken so long. Madison and other attorneys have sued the city and the officers in federal court. The city recently asked that proceedings in the civil case be delayed until after the sheriff's investigation is finished.

"There appears to be only outcome that serves justice, and that is criminal charges," Madison said.

Loehmann and Garmback remain on restricted duty.

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