City fires Timothy Loehmann for giving false information on application to become police officer
Tomiko Shine holding up a picture of Tamir Rice during a protest in Washington in December 2014. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press
The Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice while the boy was holding a pellet gun in 2014 was fired Tuesday after an investigation found he violated rules in his application to be a police cadet, city officials said.
“Effective immediately, Patrol Officer [Timothy] Loehmann will be terminated from the Cleveland Police Department,” said Cleveland Director of Public Safety Michael McGrath at a press conference announcing the results of the city’s over a-year-long investigation into the shooting.
Mr. Loehmann was fired specifically for “providing false information” on his application to become a Cleveland police officer, a violation of city rules, rather than because of actions directly related to the shooting of Tamir Rice.
Additionally, Mr. Loehmann’s former partner, Frank Garmback, has been suspended for 10 days and given additional training for his involvement in the 2014 incident. His suspension starts Wednesday morning.
“I think we’ve come to what we consider a fair conclusion to this process,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams.
In documents supporting Mr. Loehmann’s termination, officials said that he omitted the fact that he would have been fired by his previous employer, the Independence Police Department in Ohio, for failing to secure his firearm and lying to a superior officer, but was allowed to resign instead.
On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice was throwing snowballs and playing with a toy pellet gun in a Cleveland park when a police car rolled into the snowy field. Within two seconds of getting out of his squad car, officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed the 12-year-old. The officer has claimed he thought the pellet gun was a real firearm.
On Monday, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced there will be no criminal charges filed against the officers involved. McGinty said that while there was evidence of miscommunication between a 911 dispatcher and the police officers, there was not enough evidence to suggest that the cops had cleared the very high bar for criminal charges in police shooting cases. Ultimately, a grand jury decided to file no charges, as McGinty said he recommended.
The Rice shooting has garnered widespread attention, elevated by the Black Lives Matter movement that has protested racial disparities in law enforcement’s use of force following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. With tensions already high in Cleveland, the outcome of the grand jury hearings could decide whether the situation escalates as it did in Ferguson or Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
An expert in biomechanics and kinetics has determined that Tamir Rice’s hands were in his pockets and never came out of them when he was shot by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann last December.
The expert also found that Tamir’s toy gun was not visible to either Loehmann or his partner, Frank Garmback, and Loehmann shot Tamir less than a second after exiting the patrol car, not the 1.7 seconds that other experts have found.
Jesse L. Wobrock, an expert hired by attorneys representing Tamir’s family in a civil lawsuit, formed his conclusions after studying enhanced video released last week by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty. Subodh Chandra, a Cleveland-attorney on the Rice’s legal team, released Wobrock’s report late Friday night along with updated reports by two other experts, who also studied the enhanced video and maintain their original positions that the shooting of Tamir was not justifiable.
Wobrock found that in the split second before the shooting, Tamir raised his right hand – while still in his jacket pocket –in a defensive posture. As confirmation, Wobrock noted that the bullet hole in Tamir’s jacket was well below the wound in his chest, because the jacket was hiked up as Tamir raised his hand in defense.
The conclusions contradict those offered by the prosecution when the enhanced video was released. The video was released as a series of individual frames, with notes on some of the frames. Those notes say Tamir’s hands were in front of his stomach as the police car approached. They say Tamir moved his right arm toward his waist, then lifted his right shoulder and arm before he was shot.