The result shocked lawyers for the Rice family, especially after the disclosure that the prosecutor apparently allowed police officers to read prepared grand jury statements without cross-examining them. The Rice family have called for a federal civil rights investigation, and the Justice Department said it was conducting a review.
Since then, Cleveland agreed in 2016 to pay the Rice family $ 6 million to settle a lawsuit, and Constable Loehmann was fired in 2017. But the Department of Justice has remained largely silent on what was going on with it. his investigation.
Current and former officials familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, described a dysfunctional and delayed effort. They spoke in response to requests from The New York Times after learning that David Z. Seide, a lawyer representing someone with knowledge of the case, had filed a whistleblower complaint with the Department of Health Inspector General. Justice, Michael E. Horowitz, accusing the department of mismanaging the issue.
Mr Seide, a senior lawyer for the Government Accountability Project, which assists whistleblowers, contacted The Times after the Inspector General’s office informed him last week that it would not investigate the complaint. Lawmakers have not allowed Horowitz to review allegations of ethics and professional misconduct by lawyers in the department. (Congress is evaluating legislation to expand its jurisdiction; Mr Barr objected.)
The case stagnated throughout 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, according to interviews, including with Mr. Seide’s client. According to several people, one of the factors was that federal law enforcement officials in Ohio were reluctant to prosecute Agent Loehmann.
The Department of Justice had obtained a so-called Consent Order to reform the Cleveland Police Department on issues such as training and wanted to focus on these systemic issues. Additionally, officials acknowledged that it would be difficult to prove an intention to meet the legal standard to convict the officer for a federal civil rights crime, they said.
Others familiar with the case said another issue caused delays: The Civil Rights Division needed to collect and review local investigative files. Local officials, they said, dragged their feet in overturning all the evidence.