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Tamir Rice's mother calls for independent prosecutor

Video surveillance footage from a Cleveland, Ohio, park shows the moments before and after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a police officer on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. WARNING: Disturbing Content
Video surveillance footage from a Cleveland, ... 00:51

CLEVELAND -- The mother of a 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer says an independent prosecutor should take over the investigation.

At a news conference Friday outside the Cuyahoga County Justice Center, Samaria Rice said she was unhappy about how the county prosecutor's office is handling the investigation into the killing of her son, Tamir, last Nov. 22.

An undated photo shows Tamir Rice. Rice family/WOIO-TV

Officer Timothy Loehmann shot Tamir Rice -- who was holding a pellet gun -- within two seconds of a cruiser skidding to a stop near the boy last November. Friday, Samaria Rice called for prosecutor Tim McGinty to step down.

"Since the senseless shooting of my son Tamir I have had many sleepless nights and days - almost a year, no justice, no peace," Rice said. "I am very disappointed in the way Timothy McGinty is handling this investigation. I would like for him to step down and allow an independent prosecutor to take over."

A spokesman said earlier Friday that McGinty will not step aside, and the case will go to a grand jury.

Last week, two outside reviews conducted at the request of the prosecutor found the officer was justified in fatally shooting Rice.

A retired FBI agent and a Denver prosecutor both found the rookie patrolman who shot Tamir Rice exercised a reasonable use of force because he had reason to perceive the boy -- described in an emergency call as a man waving and pointing a gun -- as a serious threat.

Samaria Rice's attorney, Jonathan Abady, has said the release of the expert reports that called the shooting justified has tainted the process.

On Friday, Abady called the report's findings a "worthless, unfounded conclusions based on nothing but speculation, ignoring the facts."

"To us, it is otherworldly," he said.

A police officer, left, is seen pointing his weapon during an incident involving the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014, at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland, Ohio, in this still image from video released by the Cleveland Police Department. Reuters

In an eight-page letter sent Friday to McGinty, Abady says the Rice family is "disappointed and has grave concern" over his office's handling of the criminal investigation. Abady blasts what he calls a delay in the presentation of the case to a grand jury. He also questions the prosecutor's choice of experts to review the case, calling them "pro-police" and "biased."

He calls the release of the reports at this stage in the criminal investigation "troubling because these reports are clearly designed to exculpate the officers," and says the office has "abandoned" its obligation to pursue criminal charges because the shooter was a police officer.

"It now appears that the grand jury presentation will be nothing short of a charade aimed at whitewashing this police killing of a 12-year-old child."

In the letter, Abady also says that Loehmann was unfit to be a police officer, citing an incident during which Loehmann, then working as a police cadet for the City of Independence, Ohio, allegedly had a "mental breakdown" on a gun range.

According to Loehmann's personnel file, part of which 48 Hours' Crimesider obtained from the city of Independence, after the incident at the gun range, the then-chief of police wrote in a letter to the city's mayor that a fellow officer observed Loehmann "was weepy and distracted...could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal." The officer stated that Loehmann said he was distraught over problems with his on and off again girlfriend.

This incident was apparently not the first in which Loehmann had problems on the job. In the same letter to the mayor, the then-chief wrote that several instances had convinced him that Loehmann displayed "a pattern of a lack of maturity, indiscretion and not following instructions."

The chief recommended Loehmann be "released" from his position with the department, saying he did not believe "time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies." He also stated that he met with Loehmann to discuss his decision on Dec. 3, 2012. On Dec. 5, Loehmann submitted a letter of resignation to the Independence police department, citing "personal reasons."

In a statement released Friday, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty's office said it makes evidence in fatal use of force cases by police public before a decision on charging is made.

"By ending the culture of secrecy that formerly surrounded these cases and taking all deaths at the hands of police to the Grand Jury for review, we expect to improve community confidence and to significantly reduce the number of unnecessary deaths. There will be fewer mistakes and fewer deaths," the statement read.

The office said they believe justice can be achieved in the case.

"Some parties may be displeased with evidence or reports as they are disclosed, but by making them public before conclusion, there is an opportunity to correct errors," the statement read.

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