Tamir Rice was killed 171 days ago. The investigation into his death is still dragging on

The investigation wouldn't drag out "beyond what is reasonable," according to the sheriff's department

Published May 12, 2015 8:07PM (EDT)

  (AP/Tony Dejak)
(AP/Tony Dejak)

It was last week that Tamir Rice's mother stood on the steps of the the Cuyahoga County Justice Center and demanded to know when the investigation into the death of her 12-year-old son would finally end. "Less than a second and my son is gone, and I want to know how long I got to wait for justice?" Samaria Rice asked. The Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department offered its answer on Tuesday: the wait isn't over, and officials can't quite say when it will be.

Rice was shot in the abdomen by patrol officer Timothy Loehmann on November 22, 2014. He died of his injuries the following day. The Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department took over the investigation into his death in January 2015, and Tuesday was the first public statement the department has made since. In a room with a few cameras, Sheriff Clifford Pinkney listed off the timeline of events since Rice's death and said "the majority of our work is complete." He assured the public that there had been "zero stones" left unturned.

Pinkney didn't take questions, and after a bit of commotion in the room, the feed went still. That's all there is in the months since Tamir was killed.

While Pinkney didn't get into the details of the timeline, we know a lot about what happened that day and what's happened since. The details that have thus far not resulted in any charges being filed, are as follows:

Tamir was 12 and playing with a toy pistol at the playground across the street from his home.

When an onlooker saw Tamir holding the toy gun, he called the police. He told the dispatcher, “I’m sitting in the park … there’s a guy here with a pistol, and it’s probably a fake one, but he’s pointing it at everybody.”

In an initial statement after the shooting, police said Loehmann shot Tamir after he had ignored repeated requests to put his hands up and reached into his waistband. But video footage reveals that Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds of arriving on the scene.

About a minute later, Tamir's sister came running in the direction of her brother's bloodied body. She was tackled to the ground by another officer, Frank Garmback and allegedly handcuffed.

Neither officer provided Tamir medical attention. It wasn't until an FBI agent showed up four minutes later that Tamir received any first aid.

Rice died the next day, and the Cuyahoga County's medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

Loehmann also had a history of erratic and dangerous behavior before joining the Cleveland police department, and was found by his previous employer, the Independence Police Department in a nearby suburb -- that he showed "dangerous loss of composure during live range training" and an "inability to manage personal stress."

With no firm answers about why, exactly, the investigation had dragged on so long -- a timeline made all the more striking as charges have already been brought against the officers involved in Freddie Gray's death -- Pinkney could only offer weak explanations and assurances that it was nearly finished. It wouldn't "drag out beyond what is reasonable," he offered, as though that point hadn't already come and gone.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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