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171 days after Tamir Rice shooting, sheriff says probe almost done

About a week after Tamir Rice’s mother and her legal team publicly asked how long it would take to finish the investigation into her son’s death, the Cuyahoga County sheriff said Tuesday — 171 days after the 12-year-old was shot — that his department is almost there.

And that’s about it.

Sheriff Clifford Pinkney provided what he said was a timeline of the probe, which his department took over in December before beginning its investigation “in earnest” in mid-February. He told reporters that he and his investigators had resolved to leave “zero stones unturned” when the probe is handed to prosecutors.

The team has reviewed thousands of pages of documents, interviewed “numerous” witnesses and watched “any and all” surveillance of the Nov. 22 incident in which Cleveland police Officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shot the boy in front of a recreation center.

Still, there are witnesses to be interviewed and forensic evidence to be collected, Pinkney said.

“The majority of our work is complete,” he said. “We have been tirelessly working on this investigation.”

He did not set a deadline for completing the probe, but said it shouldn’t “drag out beyond what is reasonable.”

On May 4, Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, appeared with her legal team on the steps of the Cuyahoga County Justice Center Complex to question the amount of time that has passed since the investigation began, CNN affiliate WJW reported.

“Less than a second and my son is gone, and I want to know how long I got to wait for justice?” she asked.

Cuyahoga County’s medical examiner has ruled Tamir’s death a homicide but has issued no determination as to whether the events that caused the boy’s death constitute a crime.

Cleveland authorities have repeatedly said that Loehmann mistook Tamir’s pellet gun for a real firearm.

A witness called 911 on Nov. 22 to say there was “a guy with a pistol” and that although the weapon was “probably” fake, Tamir was scaring people. It doesn’t appear the dispatcher relayed the information to Loehmann and Officer Frank Garmback.

Video of the incident shows the two pull up on the snowy grass near a gazebo where Tamir is standing. Within two seconds of exiting the police car, Loehmann shoots the 12-year-old.

The boy died the next day of injuries to “a major vessel, intestines and pelvis.”

In the video, neither Loehmann nor Garmback appears to provide medical assistance to the boy, and Police Chief Calvin Williams has said that Tamir did not receive first aid until an FBI agent arrived on the scene four minutes later.

In December, the U.S. Justice Department released the results of a two-year investigation that found Cleveland officers use guns, Tasers, pepper spray and their fists excessively, unnecessarily or in retaliation. The police force has used unnecessary and unreasonable force at a “significant rate,” employing “dangerous tactics” that put the community at risk, the investigation stated.

It was also reported in December that Loehmann’s previous employer, the Independence Police Department in a Cleveland suburb, had numerous complaints about the officer, including that he was “distracted and weepy” and “emotionally immature” and had demonstrated “a pattern of lack of maturity, indiscretion and not following instructions.”

He also showed “dangerous loss of composure during live range training” and an “inability to manage personal stress,” the department said.