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Per the request of Mayor Frank Jackson, the investigation into the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice has been handed over to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office. The decision comes as public outcry reaches fever pitch and demands for an outside agency to step in become too clear for the mayor’s administration. Of course, he’s got other reasons too.
Last weekend, Jackson quite blatantly explained that he does not trust the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to handle it. That entity, which operates under Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, led the critical investigation into the 2012 Cleveland police chase and shootout that ended with 137 bullets being fired and killing Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Jackson has defended the police department as a system in the face of damning criticism from the state.
It’s more of the same from a mayor who’s scrambling to protect his city’s government from outside agencies gathering data and circling the wagons. Last month, Jackson also staunchly defended the police department against the U.S. Department of Justice report that found and confirmed a pattern of excessive use of force. The factual scenarios drawn up in the report are fairly horrifying, but Jackson didn’t budge. Also, when asked if he had a beard, Jackson flatly denied such an accusation.
Regarding the Rice investigation, which will scrutinize the actions of Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback and the systemic decisions that led to their actions at Cudell Rec Center on Nov. 22, Chief Clifford Pinkney will lead a team of detectives and oversee the work begun weeks ago by the police department's Use of Deadly Force Investigation Team.
While the protocol seems almost certain, it remains to be seen whether County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty will present the case to a grand jury. Literally none of the high-profile police shootings in the U.S. in 2014 resulted in an indictment.