Relatives of a 12-year-old boy who was killed by police asked Monday for their lawsuit against two officers to not be delayed and questioned why the criminal investigation remains pending more than five months after the shooting.
Tamir Rice was carrying an airsoft gun that uses nonlethal plastic pellets when an officer shot him outside a recreation center in November.
The officers who confronted him have asked a judge to delay the family’s federal civil rights lawsuit until the investigation is complete and potentially works its way through the courts. They said that would let them give their side of the story later without worrying it might be used against them in the criminal case.
The family’s attorneys objected to a delay in a court filing Monday, arguing that proceeding with the lawsuit wouldn’t cause prejudice for the officers but would increase legal costs and the emotional harm for Tamir’s family. His body still hasn’t been laid to rest, and his mother, Samaria Rice, moved to a homeless shelter because she couldn’t live so close to where her son was shot, the court filing said.
One of her attorneys, Benjamin Crump, questioned why the investigation is still pending despite the confrontation being captured on surveillance video that showed the officer firing within two seconds of a police car stopping near Tamir.
“Less than a second, my son is gone — and I want to know how long I got to wait for justice,” his mother said at a news conference.
A police union official has said the officer had no way of knowing Tamir wasn’t carrying a real firearm.
Cuyahoga County’s sheriff’s office, which took over the investigation, declined to comment Monday.
Crump noted that the investigation has lasted longer than the work of a task force created by Gov. John Kasich in December to examine community-police relations in Ohio. Tamir’s relatives and their attorneys were speaking about a mile from where Kasich and other members of the panel were discussing its recommendations Monday
The shooting of Tamir, who was black, by a white officer has raised questions about how police treat blacks and has spurred protests around the city. The county prosecutor has said the case will be presented to a grand jury for possible charges.