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A lengthy investigative report on the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice found no hard evidence that the Cleveland police officer who pulled the trigger gave the 12-year-old boy a warning to raise his hands before firing.
The report, released by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department this week, will likely lead to further questions about officer Timothy Loehmann's actions in the moments before Rice was shot while holding a toy airsoft pellet gun.
According to witness statements, it was unclear if Loehmann told Rice to raise his hands before firing. One witness said in the report that the she heard two gunshots before the warning was given. The witness reportedly "described hearing two gunshots 'Bang, Bang,' then hearing someone yell, 'Freeze… show me your hands!' then she heard a third and final 'Bang.'"
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Cleveland police said previously that the officer warned Rice three times to raise his hands, and that he fired after Rice attempted to reach for his waistband where he had placed the pellet gun. Investigators said in the new report that it was unclear if Loehmann had given any instructions to Rice before exiting his car and firing twice.
The report estimated that Loehmann fired when he was between seven and four and a half feet away from Rice.
"Transparency (i.e., the actual facts) is essential for an intelligent discussion of the important issues raised by this case," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said in a statement. "If we wait years for all litigation to be completed before the citizens are allowed to know what actually happened, we will have squandered our best opportunity to institute needed changes in use of force policy, police training and leadership."
The Cleveland Police Department has come under harsh criticism for the deadly shooting, which has led to protests in Cleveland and across the country in a larger movement to examine police brutality. Last month, the department reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice to undertake specific reforms.
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The new report also gives harrowing details of the moments before and after the shooting, when members of Rice's family arrived at the scene and the boy was treated at a nearby hospital.
The same witness who heard the three gunshots said she saw Rice's sister attempt to run toward the scene screaming, "That's my brother!" before police handcuffed her and put her in a squad car. Rice's mother also reportedly arrived on the scene and yelled at police.
An FBI agent trained as a paramedic was the first person to give Rice first aid after the shooting. The agent reportedly told investigators that the Cleveland cops seemed uncertain about what they could do to help.
"They wanted to do something, but they didn't know what to do," the agent told investigators.
Rice underwent surgery within minutes of arriving at a Cleveland hospital, but doctors were not able to stop internal bleeding and he died around midnight.
This week, an Ohio judge declared that there was enough evidence to charge Loehmann with murder, manslaughter, and reckless homicide, but only prosecutors can bring charges against the officer.
Follow Gillian Mohney on Twitter: @gillianmohney
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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