Cleveland hands Tamir Rice investigation over to Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department

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CLEVELAND- The investigation into the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice is now in the hands of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department.

Rice was shot by a Cleveland police officer on Nov. 22 while at the Cudell Recreation Center. Officers were responding to a call of a male pointing a gun at people. Rice was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he died the next day. Police later learned the gun was airsoft.

This decision to turn the investigation over was made to ensure that transparency and an extra layer of separation and impartiality were established,” Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement on Friday. “I believe that the best way to ensure accountability in a use of force investigation is to have it completed by an outside agency.”

According to a news release, the investigation was transferred to the sheriff’s office at the direction of County Executive Armond Budish. Chief Deputy Clifford Pinkney will investigate and turn the findings over to the prosecutor’s office to determine possible charges.

"We are cautiously optimistic about the announcement made earlier today regarding the City of Cleveland's promise of transparency and impartiality in the transfer of the investigation into the shooting death of Tamir Rice. First and foremost, the Rice family hopes that this investigation yields information about why Cleveland Police failed to conduct a background check with the Independence Police Department before hiring Office Timothy Loehmann, Further, hopeful that this independent investitfationw ill shed some light on why the police car nearly drove on top of Tamir Rice and why he was shot less than two seconds after officers converged," was said in a statement made from the lawyers for Tamir Rice's family.

“Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department is well-prepared to conduct this investigation. We have some of our most experienced Detectives working this case and I’m confident that the investigation will be extensive,” Pinkney said. “I intend to lead this investigation with an understanding of the importance and gravity of a thorough and systematic resolution.”

Pinkney was promoted to the department’s chief in 2013, and has 24 years of service.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis said the move could be seen as a “slap in the face for the homicide detectives and department of internal affairs,” as if they’re not performing their jobs properly.  However he also said that he didn’t have a problem with it “as long as the investigation is fair and transparent.”