More than 2 years after the shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice, the officer who pulled the trigger has finally been fired. However, it is not for Rice’s murder. Officer Timothy Loehmann was dismissed from the Cleveland Police Department on Tuesday when an investigation found that he lied on his employment application to work for the department.
On his application, Loehmann had stated that he had resigned from his previous position at the Independence Police Department in Independence, Ohio. And while this was not a lie, the investigation found several other findings that had not been disclosed:
- Loehmann had been forced to resign or else he would have been fired from Independence
- In Independence he had been accused of failing to secure his firearm, insubordination, and lying to his superior officer
- He had an emotional breakdown and was sent home during a state qualification exam
- He answered “no” when asked if he had ever received disciplinary action
- He answered “no” when asked if he had been disqualified from employment from any other department
- Findings found he had been disqualified from several
- The Independence Police Department had found him to be emotionally immature and unable to emotionally function
For all of these reasons, he was dismissed.
However, the question is, how was it that these things were allowed to slip through the cracks? Each piece of this puzzle explains how this mentally ill man was able to gun down a 12-year old boy with literally NO HESITATION. In fact, Loehmann had not even finished his 6-month probationary period with the Cleveland Police Department when he murdered Tamir.
Ultimately, that little boy was killed not by Loehmann alone, but by the Blue Wall, the Code of Silence, the Brotherhood of Police Officers that allows a man to be disgraced at one department and simply lie his way into another. These findings should have been discovered BEFORE Loehmann, or any other officer, is allowed to put on a uniform and police any community. I can only assume that because he had already worked as a cop and was already a member of the brotherhood, that HR in Cleveland simply took him at his word and handed him a badge, which ultimately protected him from any criminal repercussions in Rice’s murder.
Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother, spoke with reporters a half hour after the announcement of Loehmann’s firing. She expressed disappointment that Loehmann’s partner, Officer Frank Garmback, who was driving the squad car, was not also fired, rather than given a 10 day suspension for improper procedure. And while she was relieved that Loehmann would no longer be policing the streets, she made it clear. “It does make a difference. I wish they would have fired him for killing Tamir.” In fact, the news conference announcing Loehmann’s firing, led by Michael McGrath, director of Public Safety, did not cite Rice’s killing as any of the impetus for Loehmann’s firing. But Rice’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, called for more,
“What we don’t see today is any mention of accountability for the people at the city who permitted Loehmann to become an officer to begin with.”
And while Chandra did negotiate a $6million settlement for the Rice family last year, that still says nothing for the rest of the public, who is endangered every day as the Blue Code of Silence allows real criminals, real dangers to our communities, to slip through the cracks and legally carry guns and hide behind badges.
R.I.P. Tamir. You will not, and have not been, forgotten.