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Reports Find Police Shooting of Black Youth Justified

FILE - Tomiko Shine holds up a picture of Tamir Rice, the 12 year old boy fatally shot on Nov. 22 by a rookie police officer, in Cleveland, Ohio, Dec. 1, 2014.

Two outside investigations have found a white Ohio police officer was justified in the fatal shooting of a black 12-year-old boy who was carrying a toy pellet gun.

Tamir Rice was killed in November 2014 outside of a Cleveland recreation center. Trainee officer Timothy Loehmann shot Rice within seconds of arriving on the scene following a call about a man carrying a gun.

Authorities say the gun in question was a replica pistol that shot plastic pellets, but the orange markings that indicates it was a toy, were removed.

The reports were released Saturday by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office ahead of a grand jury hearing to determine whether the officer will be charged in Rice's death.

An attorney for Rice's family criticized the reports as a "whitewash."

"We are not reaching any conclusions from these reports," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty. "The gathering of evidence continues and the Grand Jury will evaluate it all."

The report prepared by former FBI agent Kimberly A. Crawford, found that Loehmann's use of force did not violate Rice's constitutional rights.

"It is my conclusion that Officer Loehmann’s use of deadly force falls within the realm of reasonableness under the dictates of the Fourth Amendment," Crawford writes.

A second report, written by Colorado prosecutor Lamar Sims, found that any reasonable officer could have believed Rice's gun was a real firearm and that actions based on that mistake can be reasonable.

"I conclude that Officer Loehmann's belief that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat.," he says.

The case is one in a series of high profile deaths by African Americans at the hands of police.

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