The Cleveland Police Department has formally handed over its investigation into the fatal police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, the city announced Friday.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said the decision was made to “ensure transparency” and establish “an extra layer of separation and impartiality,” the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported.
On Thursday, the city said that Michael McGrath, the city's safety director and its former police chief, has been in talks with Cuyahoga County officials for the sheriff's office to handle the inquiry.
Until now, Cleveland police investigators had been collecting evidence and conducting interviews related to the Nov. 22 shooting of Rice.
The boy was carrying an airsoft gun that shoots nonlethal plastic pellets when a rookie officer shot him at a Cleveland playground.
Surveillance video released by police shows Rice being shot less than two seconds after the patrol car stopped near him. Officer Timothy Loehmann told the boy to put his hands up, but he didn't comply, according to police.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Jeff Follmer recently told The Associated Press that officers had no way of knowing the boy was carrying an airsoft gun that only looked like a real firearm.
Cleveland police have come under outside scrutiny on other cases recently. Last month, the U.S. Justice Department released findings from a nearly two-year investigation of the agency, an inquiry that did not include Tamir's shooting. The department concluded that officers use excessive and unnecessary force far too often.
In 2013, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said leadership and communications failures led to a chaotic 2012 police chase that ended with 13 officers firing 137 rounds and killing two unarmed people.
Tamir Rice's family has sued the city in federal court, saying the two officers acted recklessly when they confronted the boy.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press