Police officer who shot Tamir Rice dead hired by Ohio police department

Timothy Loehmann shot 12-year-old while he playing outside a recreation centre with a pellet gun

Maya Oppenheim
Sunday 07 October 2018 17:32
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A grand jury cleared Mr Loehmann of any wrongdoing in 2015
A grand jury cleared Mr Loehmann of any wrongdoing in 2015

The police officer who shot dead 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland four years ago has been hired by a police department in eastern Ohio.

Timothy Loehmann, a former Cleveland officer, shot Tamir while he played outside a recreation centre with a pellet gun in 2014.

A grand jury cleared Mr Loehmann of any wrongdoing in 2015 - sparking public outrage about police treatment of black communities.

Bellaire police chief Richard Dick Flanagan said his police department hired Mr Loehmann as one of two new part-time police officers on Friday.

Mr Flanagan told The Times Leader he believed Mr Loehmann deserved a second chance and said he had no reservations about choosing to employ him.

“He was cleared of any and all wrongdoing. He was never charged. It’s over and done with,” the police chief told WTOV.

"He's not quitting on being a police officer. He made a decision that's going to stay with him the rest of his life.

"Like anybody else, if you make a mistake, someone's got to give you a second chance, give someone opportunity. There is no worry, I stand behind this officer ... I'll stand behind this officer like I will any of my officers."

Mr Loehmann shot Tamir after a witness called 911 to report that someone was brandishing a gun in a park. Records show the caller noted that the person was "probably a juvenile" and that the gun was "probably fake".

The dispatcher did not share that information with Mr Loehmann or the officer who was driving Frank Garmback.

Tamir was actually playing with a toy pistol at a recreation centre across from the Rice family home in Cleveland. Tamir's sister, Samaria, rushed to the scene but was promptly arrested and placed in the back of the police car.

Officers failed to administer proper first aid and the child died the next day from the gunshot wound.

Footage of the incident shows Mr Loehmann, then a trainee, arriving in a squad car which was driven by Mr Garmback. The car moves close to Tamir and Mr Loehmann shoots the boy less than two seconds after the vehicle arrives.

Mr Loehmann and Mr Garmback both said in written statements - dated November 2015 - they believed Tamir was pulling out a real gun from his waistband.

Subodh Chandra, the Rice family lawyer, said Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice, feels that "Loehmann doesn't belong on any police force anywhere and shouldn't be foisted upon the citizenry anywhere."

"But she hopes that this does mean he will never return to Cleveland," she tweeted.

Although a grand jury declined to indict Mr Loehmann, he was fired last year after it was discovered he was previously deemed "unfit for duty."

Mr Loehmann's new employment comes after the recent conviction of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke after he fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014.

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