CLEVELAND -- A medical examiner has ruled that the death of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy shot on Nov. 22 by a police officer was a homicide.
Tamir Rice suffered a single gunshot wound to his abdomen, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson wrote. The bullet lodged in Rice's pelvis after causing internal hemorrhaging.
The report says Rice was 5-feet-7 inches tall, 195 pounds, and describes his appearance as "consistent with the reported age of 12 years or older."
A medical examiner's ruling of homicide does not necessarily mean that a crime occurred, according to Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensics expert and Chairperson of the Department of Sciences at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
"If somebody shoots somebody else, the medical examiner's going to call it a homicide. Now whether it's criminal, is a different story," Kobilinsky said.
Rice's mother, Samaria Rice, made her first public comments about the incident on Monday. She said she's "looking for a conviction," against officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback.
Her comments followed the family's filing of a wrongful death lawsuit last Friday, alleging two officers acted recklessly when they confronted the boy in a terrifying manner and fired within seconds.
The federal lawsuit filed against the city and the two officers also said the officers waited four minutes before anyone provided medical help to Rice after he was shot outside a city recreation center.
Surveillance video released by police shows Tamir Rice being shot within 2 seconds of a patrol car stopping within a few feet of him at a park. The video shows the boy holding what police later discovered was an airsoft gun, which shoots nonlethal plastic projectiles. He died the next day.
The shooting has sparked protests across Cleveland and Rice's name has been invoked in rallies against excessive use of force by police across the county.
On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department released findings from a nearly two-year investigation of Cleveland police, which found its officers use excessive and unnecessary force far too often.
The report did not look into Tamir's death, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, while announcing the report's findings, said that the deaths of young black people, including in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri, have raised urgent national questions about the sense of trust between police and communities.