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National

Outside Agency Expected To Probe Cleveland Police Shooting

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In the city of Cleveland, the investigation into the police shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice continues this new year. No criminal charges have been filed. And now city officials tell NPR they are in talks to hand over the investigation to the county sheriff's department. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: While no final decision has been announced, a city spokesman tells NPR that Cleveland officials want an outside agency to handle all of its deadly use of force cases involving police. Calls for an outside agency to take over the investigation into Tamir Rice's death came last November. Tamir was reaching for a toy gun in a playground when he was shot by a Cleveland police officer. The day after the autopsy report was released, his mother, Samaria Rice, spoke at a Washington rally protesting the deaths of black males at the hands of police.

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SAMARIA RICE: My son was 12 years old, just a baby - a baby, my baby, the youngest out of four.

WANG: Tamir's death came as the U.S. Department of Justice was concluding an unrelated civil rights investigation into Cleveland's police department. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the results just weeks after the incident.

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U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: We have determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Cleveland division of public police engages in a pattern and practice of using excessive force.

WANG: For now, the city of Cleveland is still in charge of collecting evidence. If the county does take over this case, it would be the second high-profile killing involving Cleveland police to be investigated by an outside agency in two years. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.