Cleveland Officer Who Killed Tamir Rice Swiftly Exits New Police Job
Two days after Timothy Loehmann, the former Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, was sworn in as a police officer for a rural Pennsylvania community, he left the position, the borough of Tioga announced on Thursday.
It came after a public outcry in response to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette article that revealed his hiring.
David Wilcox, the mayor of Tioga, appeared on Wednesday at a community protest against Mr. Loehmann’s hiring, claiming he had no knowledge of Mr. Loehmann’s past. He stood atop a pickup truck and told residents that he had “zero knowledge of the candidate that we just hired for our police department,” according to a video posted by The Wellsboro Gazette.
“I was told that there was an extensive background check, numerous phone calls made and there were no negative marks on his record and that he would be a great candidate for this town,” Mr. Wilcox said, emphasizing that it was the borough council’s responsibility to review applicants and hire and fire staff.
But Henry Hilow, a lawyer for Mr. Loehmann, called Mr. Wilcox’s statement disingenuous. He said the mayor had been aware of Mr. Loehmann’s history. According to Mr. Hilow, Mr. Loehmann decided to resign because he did not want to be part of “infighting” between the Tioga borough board and its mayor.
“It was not a healthy situation for him,” Mr. Hilow said, adding that Mr. Loehmann had previously applied for numerous jobs, including those outside of law enforcement.
Mr. Loehmann was sworn in for the role on Tuesday as the borough’s lone police officer but had not yet started the job, his attorney said.
“The community spoke. They got their feelings out, and we listened to them and we’re going to react to it and that will be that,” the borough council president, Steve Hazlett, told The Associated Press. “We thank the community for stepping forward and letting their voices be heard.”
Members of the borough council did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The New York Times on Thursday. Tioga, a tiny borough spanning half a square mile along the Tioga River, has a population of just under 700 people. It lies along Pennsylvania’s northern border with New York.
Subodh Chandra, a lawyer for Tamir Rice’s family, said that he planned to request further information about how Mr. Loehmann had nearly managed to gain employment in Tioga.
“While it’s good that Loehmann will not be inflicting himself with a badge and a gun upon the citizens of Tioga, officials of that town need to be held accountable for their demonstrably, atrociously poor judgment,” Mr. Chandra said. “This game of Whac-a-Mole with Loehmann resurfacing as a cop elsewhere needs to end.”
In November 2014, Mr. Loehmann, who is white, fatally shot Tamir Rice, a Black 12-year-old who was holding a pellet gun outside a recreation center in Cleveland. Video of the incident shows Mr. Loehmann firing within two seconds of when his patrol car pulled up next to the child. Mr. Loehmann later said that he had seen Tamir reach for an object resembling a gun in his waistband.
In 2015, a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Mr. Loehmann, further fueling national outrage about Mr. Rice’s death and other killings of Black people by police officers.
A year later, the City of Cleveland settled with Tamir’s family for $6 million, extinguishing the possibility of a civil rights trial. Officials said that the settlement amount was the city’s largest in a police-related lawsuit.
The Cleveland Police Department fired Mr. Loehmann in 2017 for having lied on his job application for the police force, a discovery the department said it made after officials began investigating Mr. Loehmann’s conduct in the shooting. He had failed to disclose why he resigned from a previous role at a police department in Independence, Ohio. Supervisors there had recommended his termination, specifying “an inability to emotionally function,” in addition to citing examples of lying and insubordination.
Mr. Loehmann has made at least one other attempt to work as a police officer in recent years. In October 2018, he was hired by a police department in a small Ohio village for a part-time position. The Bellaire Police Department’s decision to hire Mr. Loehmann set off protests and was condemned by Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice. Mr. Loehmann quit days after being hired.
Ms. Rice said that Mr. Loehmann should accept that his career in law enforcement is over. She described him as “a bad apple for the bunch.”
“He doesn’t deserve a second chance,” Ms. Rice said. “He didn’t give my son a second chance.”