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Tamir Rice's Dad Speaks After Son's Fatal Shooting: 'I Can't See Him Grow Up'

Leonard Warner, the father of Tamir, who was killed by Cleveland police in November, spoke publicly for the first time about his son's death.

The father of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy fatally shot by police last year, said he's struggling to tell his other children why their brother is no longer alive.

In his first public interview since Tamir's death, Leonard Warner told NBC affiliate WKYC on Wednesday that he has no answer for the boy's siblings.

"Every time they wake up, they asking about him ... and they go to sleep, they asking about him," said Warner, adding that he doesn't give the kids details about how Tamir died.

"I can't tell them, but he's watching over you," Warner said.

A Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office investigation into whether Cleveland police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback will be charged in the Nov. 22 shooting remains open. Surveillance video from the scene outside of a recreation center shows Loehmann firing at Tamir within two seconds of arriving.

Investigators said the boy appeared to be reaching for a gun in his waistband, although the firearm turned out to be an airsoft-type pellet gun with the orange safety tip removed.

Warner said he didn't know where the boy got the pellet gun — but his attorney, Walter Madison, told the station that it came from a 16-year-old neighbor. The teenager lent it to Tamir while he charged his cellphone, Madison said.

In the wake of Tamir's death, his case has become a linchpin in the national call for police reform. Cleveland officials agreed this week to implement broad reforms suggested by the Department of Justice, which found that the city's police department had been engaging in a pattern of excessive force and civil rights violations.

Six months after his son was killed, Warner said that he's simply looking for closure.

"I'm still down and out," he said, adding, "I can’t see (Tamir) grow up to be a man and having grandkids and giving me grandkids."

The pellet gun Tamir Rice was holding when he was shot by police.
The pellet gun Tamir Rice was holding when he was shot by police.NBC News

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