When 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by Cleveland police after carrying a toy gun in a playground, a Cleveland reporter looked into his parent’s past to get a sense of the child’s mindset. (Readers, understandably, were appalled let the reporter know.) Now, someone has looked into the policeman who actually did the shooting and it turns out, he was forced out of his last law enforcement job.
The Guardian U.K. reports that Officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot and killed Rice within seconds of responding to a 911 call, resigned from a small suburban police force after he was declared unfit for duty while handling a firearm.
Loehmann, who killed Tamir Rice on 22 November, was specifically faulted for breaking down emotionally while handling a live gun. During a training episode at a firing range, Loehmann was reported to be “distracted and weepy” and incommunicative. “His handgun performance was dismal,” deputy chief Jim Polak of the Independence, Ohio, police department wrote in an internal memo.
The memo concludes with a recommendation that Loehmann be “released from the employment of the City of Independence”. Less than a week later, on 3 December 2012, Loehmann resigned.
In March of this year, Loehmann was hired by the Cleveland police department. It is unclear whether the department had seen the Independence memo at the time of Loehmann’s hiring.
“I have not received any instruction about it, and I have not received the file” from Independence, said Sgt Ali Pillow, a Cleveland police spokesman. He said the Cleveland department had not commented on whether it had seen the memo from Independence before Loehmann was hired.
On a Saturday afternoon last month, Loehmann and a partner, Frank Garmack, were dispatched to Cleveland’s Cudell Commons Park after a 911 caller reported “a guy” in the park was pointing a “probably fake” gun at people. Surveillance video recovered after the incident showed Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old, handling a pistol-sized pellet gun.
Loehmann shot the boy dead within two seconds of a police car driven by Garmack arriving to the park and pulling to a stop within feet of the child. In the video, released by Cleveland police a week ago, Loehmann appears to fire his gun as he opens the door to leave the police car.
Loehmann has been taken off patrol duties in Cleveland and the shooting is under internal review.