Ohio town hires police officer who killed Tamir Rice

"He was never charged," the Bellaire, Ohio police chief said. "It’s over and done with." 

Tamir Rice in an undated photo. CREDIT: Rice family
Tamir Rice in an undated photo. CREDIT: Rice family

A police department in small town in Ohio has hired the officer who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a shooting that became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Timothy Loehmann will soon begin work as a part-time officer in the village of Bellaire, Ohio, The Intelligencer reported Friday.

Loehmann, who is white, shot Rice two times within seconds of responding to a report of a black “guy” in a park with what appeared to be a handgun. The gun was a realistic Airsoft replica.

“He was cleared of any and all wrongdoing,” Bellaire police Chief Richard Flanagan told The Times Leader of his decision to hire Loehmann. “He was never charged. It’s over and done with.” 


A grand jury declined to charge Loehmann after the shooting, and an internal police investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing. But Cleveland fired Loehmann in 2017 after it discovered the police department in Independence, Ohio, had pushed him out for “lack of maturity” and “inability to perform basic functions as instructed.”

A memo that was part of Loehmann’s Independence personnel file described him having an emotional breakdown over relationship problems during a firearms training and leaving his duty weapon in an unlocked locker overnight.

“His handgun performance was dismal,” Deputy Chief Jim Polak wrote. In the memo, Polak concluded, “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”

Loehmann also failed an exam to join the Maple Heights, Ohio, police department in 2009, according to The Times Leader.

Bellaire has about 4,000 residents. It’s police force has eight full-time and four part-time officers. “And if anyone is looking for a part-time job, call me,” Flannagan, the Bellaire police chief, told The Times Leader.


Eric Smith will also be joining the Bellaire Police Department part-time. Smith was suspended from his post as police chief in Bethesda, Ohio, last spring over possible misuse of a law-enforcement database. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has an ongoing felony investigation into Smith.

Flanagan told The Times Leader he did not have any reservations about hiring Loehmann. But he did express concerns about hiring Smith and said the officer will not have access to Bellaire’s police computer systems.

“I had reservations about Eric Smith and I still do,” Flanagan told the paper. “Everyone has got to prove themselves. I try to prove every day that I am capable of being the police chief. Everybody makes mistakes.”