Five months after a Cleveland police officer killed Tamir Rice, delays in the criminal investigation of the incident have left the boy's family unable to bury his body, according to a court document filed Monday.
"Because it is unknown whether there may need to be an additional medical examination, the body of Tamir Rice has not been put to rest," states the document, the Rice family's objection to the city of Cleveland's attempt to halt federal civil litigation while local law enforcement finishes its criminal investigation.
Rice died at the hands of police last November, after a passerby called 9/11 to alert the cops of a child in a park playing with a gun that was "probably fake." Security video of the incident shows that the responding officer, Timothy Loehmann, shot Rice within seconds of arriving at the park.
Rice's gun was later determined to be a toy. He was 12 years old at the time of his death. After the incident it was revealed that Loehmann had been found emotionally unstable when he worked for another Ohio police department.
A month after the shooting, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff took charge of the criminal investigation. In January, the Rice family filed a separate federal civil rights lawsuit against Loehman, his partner Frank Garmback, and the city of Cleveland. The city then tried to get that lawsuit dismissed, drawing criticism for stating that Rice's death had been "caused by his own actions."
Now, the city of Cleveland is asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio to suspend the Rice family's federal civil rights lawsuit until the Cuyahoga sheriff completes the criminal investigation. On Monday, the family filed a formal objection to the city's motion of stay.
It Monday's filing, the family argued that "nothing in the Constitution requires a civil action to be stayed in the face of a pending or impending criminal indictment." The objection also states that the Cuyahoga County Sheriff "has had no communication with the family of Tamir Rice concerning their investigation."
The document also says that Rice's mother has been "forced to move to a homeless shelter because she could no longer live next door to the killing field of her son."
Speaking outside the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's office, Rice's family and their attorneys said that the delays in the criminal investigation, which is entering its fifth month, are inexcusable and have caused them great pain.
"Less than a second, my son is gone," said Samaria Rice, Tamir's mother. "I want to know how long I have to wait for justice."
"This criminal investigation has gone slower than molasses in the wintertime," Walter Madison, the Rice family attorney, said in a news conference outside the office of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff.
The city of Cleveland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nicolás Medina Mora is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Nicolás Medina Mora at email@example.com.
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