Cleveland boy's death in police shooting declared homicide

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CLEVELAND (Reuters) – The death of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy fatally shot by police in November has been formally ruled a homicide, according to a county autopsy report released on Friday that found he was struck once in the abdomen.
Tamir Rice, who was black, was shot on Nov. 22 by a white police officer responding to a call of a suspect waving a handgun around in a Cleveland park. The weapon turned out to be a replica that typically fires plastic pellets. The sixth-grader died the next day.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report said Rice sustained a single wound to the left side of his abdomen that traveled from front to back and lodged in his pelvis.

The shooting came at a time of heightened national scrutiny of police use of force and two days before a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Rice was shot less than two seconds after the police car pulled up beside him in the park, police have said. They also released a security video of Rice in the park before and during the shooting.

Rice was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 195 pounds, according to the autopsy report.
Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, said on Monday the officers involved should be convicted. The family filed a lawsuit last week against the city of Cleveland and the two officers involved in Rice’s shooting, who are on administrative leave.

The officer who shot Rice, Timothy Loehmann, had been on the Cleveland force for less than a year. A second officer, Frank Garmback, was driving the car. Both officers are white.

A grand jury investigates all police shootings in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland.

The shooting of Rice, and grand jury decisions not to indict officers in the deaths of Brown or a black man who was put in a chokehold during an arrest in New York, have driven protests over the police use of force in the United States.

Cleveland’s police force has been under a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, which found in a report released on Dec. 4 that the department systematically engages in excessive use of force.

(Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Susan Heavey)

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