A Cleveland city employee has been fired after posting inflammatory comments about the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on his Facebook page, lamenting that he didn’t kill the “little criminal” himself.
“Tamir Rice should have been shot and I am glad he is dead,” wrote Jamie Marquardt, a supervisor for Cleveland’s Emergency Medical Service, according to Cleveland’s Fox 8 TV station. “I am upset I did not get the chance to kill the little criminal.”
A spokesperson for the city denounced the post and called Marquadt’s comments “egregious.”
Rice’s death in November 2014 sparked widespread protests and outrage. It was the latest in a string of controversial incidents of police brutality against black men, including the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, and a grand jury decision in Staten Island that also refused to indict NYPD Officer David Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
The 12-year-old Rice was fatally gunned down by a white police officer while he was playing with a toy gun in a park near his house. The officer, Timothy Loehmann, opened fire on Rice just seconds after pulling up next to him.
Macquadt, the EMS supervisor, insisted he did not write the post and claims the comments were made after someone picked up his phone.
“I did not do it,” he told the New York Daily News. “I presented evidence to the city of Cleveland that I did not do it. They fired me simply because it was on the news. They have no evidence I did this.”
This isn’t the first time city officials in Cleveland and elsewhere have come under fire for inflammatory remarks about Rice, however.
Last month, an officer from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District was disciplined and suspended after it was discovered that he posted offensive comments on Facebook about Rice and his mother. And just a month after Rice’s death, in December 2014, the St. Louis County Police Department published a now-deleted tweet that immediately drew harsh condemnation. At the time of his death, Rice was playing with a toy gun that was missing the orange warning tip that is supposed to identify it as fake. The St. Louis PD tweet zeroed in on that detail, arguing that airsoft guns, despite being toys, resemble real guns and thus don’t impact how “officers are trained to respond.” The first line of the tweet, which linked to the department’s Facebook post, asked: “Kids will be Kids?”
But the controversy doesn’t end there. Last year, public records obtained by ThinkProgress revealed that Loehmann, a rookie cop, admitted on his job application for the Cleveland Police Department that his primary source of income prior to his hiring was “under-the-table jobs.” Moreover, a letter in Loehmann’s file from the Independence, Ohio Police Department where the officer previously worked, concluded that he did not possess the maturity necessary to perform well as an officer and recommended that he be “released from the employment of the City of Independence.
“I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment…I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies,” the letter reads.
Nevertheless, in October of last year, a pair of reports determined that Loehmann was “justified” in shooting Rice. The following month, a grand jury declined to indict Loehmann. Rice’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the two police officers involved in the shooting and the city of Cleveland.