Cleveland, OH - The Cleveland Police Department held a press conference on Tuesday to announce that they have fired Officer Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot Tamir Rice in 2014.
Most surprising about the announcement was that the firing was not directly related to the shooting, but rather violations in disclosing information in his hiring process.
"Patrol officer Loehmann had been charged with rule violations concerning his application process to be considered a cadet with the Division of Police — specifically, answers he had provided on his personal history statement," Director of Public Safety Michael McGrath said.
Prior to being hired by Cleveland Police Department, Officer Timothy Loehmann had worked for the Independence Police Department, where he was allowed to resign after supervisors noted that he was unfit to be a police officer, according to Cleveland.com.
Adam Ferrise with Cleveland.com also notes, "The disciplinary letter cites a letter in Loehmann's personnel file from Independence that says he was emotionally immature and had 'an inability to emotionally function.' The letter also cites an emotional breakdown Loehmann had on the gun range in Independence."
Officer Timothy Loehmann also failed to disclose that he had applied for the Maple Heights Police Department but failed the written test.
The reasoning behind this firing is disturbing, and not just because it appears to be a way to skirt firing him for a shooting which was ruled to be legally justified.
If the Cleveland Police Department was aware that Loehmann had resigned from the Independence Police Department, and they had failed to check his disciplinary file during their background check, then what kind of background check are they performing?
Is the Cleveland police department failing to verify the information provided by applicants? Or are they allowing unqualified applicants through their process with no background check? It appears that the department was either aware of Loehmann's time with Independence Police Department, knew of his disciplinary file, and decided to hire him anyway, or Cleveland PD's background check process is a joke.
The Tamir Rice shooting occurred on November 22, 2014 after someone called 911 to report that Rice, 12, was in the park with a gun. The caller told the dispatcher that Tamir was probably a juvenile and that the gun was "probably fake." Two pieces of information which are more-or-less completely irrelevant to the responding officers. The officers were dispatched to a "guy with a gun."
The officers arrived and surveillance footage shows Tamir reach towards his waistband and lift up an outer garment. Officer Timothy Loehmann stepped out of the patrol car and fired two shots, hitting Tamir once.
In 2015, a grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers because it was reasonable for them to believe that Tamir Rice was reaching for a gun.
Officer Frank Garmback, who was driving the patrol car but did not shoot, was suspended for 10 days because the department said that his tactics sucked by driving directly up to Rice.
Also disciplined was 911 call-taker Constance Hollinger for not relaying that the caller said that the gun was "probably fake" and that Tamir was probably a juvenile; two irrelevant pieces of information. The caller had called in alarmed about a guy with a gun and their statement about the gun being "probably fake" would have been ignored by any reasonable officer. Also, Tamir Rice's age would only be relevant as part of the suspect description, but not relevant in determining if he posed a deadly threat to officers.
A call-takers' job is to filter out irrelevant information and obtain relevant information, which is what Hollinger did. For doing her job, she was blamed for the entire shooting and suspended for eight days without pay.
Do you believe that the failed background check is the reason for Officer Timothy Loehmann being fired? We'd like to hear what you think. Please let us know in the comments.