Tamir Rice’s killer fired from Cleveland police

Timothy Loehmann is off the street, but technically it’s not because he killed a 12-year-old.

A protester holds a sign commemorating slain Tamir Rice. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File
A protester holds a sign commemorating slain Tamir Rice. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File

Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann was fired Tuesday morning by city officials, nearly two years after he shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice outside a recreation center in the city.

Loehmann’s partner that day, Officer Frank Garmback, will be suspended for 10 days and required to undergo re-training on the department’s tactical policies.

Neither man was charged with a crime in Rice’s death, which was captured on grainy surveillance camera footage. Police were responding to a 911 call reporting a man with a gun. The caller told dispatchers it might be a toy gun — which it was — but that information was never relayed to Loehmann and Garmback. Within seconds of their car arriving to the scene, Loehmann leaned out the passenger’s side door of their cruiser and fatally shot Rice.

Local prosecutor Timothy McGinty determined that no criminal charges were justified only after a long, slow, and much-criticized investigative process. McGinty effectively stonewalled the high-profile case, at one point ignoring a judge’s ruling that probable cause existed to charge Loehmann and Garmback in the killing. He would later accuse Samaria Rice of being “economically motivated” when she criticized his handling of the case. McGinty was fired by Ohio voters in 2016.

Loehmann’s firing on Tuesday is the closest Rice’s family have come to seeing their criticisms of their son’s killer validated. But the technical reasoning city officials laid out Tuesday morning show that Rice’s killer was fired for misleading the department on his job application rather than for killing the boy.

“Patrol Officer Loehmann had been charged with violations concerning his application process to considered a cadet with the Division of Police: Specifically, answers he had provided on his personal history statement,” said Cleveland Director of Public Safety Michael McGrath, whose office runs administrative hearings when police officers are formally charged with non-criminal violations of policy.

Asked how he would respond to critics of the city’s decision, Chief Calvin Williams was blunt. “There’s a 12-year-old kid dead,” Willisams said. “People on both sides are going to say it wasn’t enough, or it was too much. After over two years of investigation…we’ve come to what I think is a fair resolution to this process.”

Loehmann had mislead Cleveland officials about his past experience as a police officer, as ThinkProgress reported in 2014.

He claimed to have left the Independence, Ohio police department “for personal reasons.” In fact, the Independence Police Department’s Deputy Chief had found Loehmann “not mentally prepared to do firearm training” after he exhibited signs of emotional instability. “I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment,” the deputy chief wrote, before recommending that Loehmann be dismissed from the Independence PD.

Personnel records for Timothy Loehmann from Independence, OH. CREDIT: City of Independence
Personnel records for Timothy Loehmann from Independence, OH. CREDIT: City of Independence

By representing a dismissal for cause and a professional evaluation that he was unfit for policework as “personal reasons” in his application for the Cleveland force, Loehmann opened himself up to administrative charges. After a hearing that included legal representatives for the officer, McGrath concurred with the findings of a department investigation into Loehmann’s job application materials.

“Therefore, effective immediately this morning, Patrol Officer Loehmann will be terminated from the Cleveland Division of Police,” McGrath said.

The city has also changed the hiring rules which allowed it to hire a cop whose previous supervisor had deemed him unfit.

“We’ve changed our hiring process,” Williams said. “The process now is to make sure we actually view and read through any personnel file for any former or current law enforcement officer or corrections officer.”