Former Cleveland Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Tamir Rice Backs Out of Job With New Department
By Evan MacDonald
The former Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice has backed out of taking a part-time job with an Ohio police department that recently agreed to hire him.
Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice, announced at a Wednesday news conference that Timothy Loehmann rescinded his application to the Bellaire Police Department.
Samaria Rice said she is relieved that Loehmann will not be patrolling Bellaire.
"Hopefully he will never be employed by any [police department] in America," she said during the news conference. "He is unfit to be a police officer, period."
Jeff Follmer, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association union that represents rank-and-file officers, also confirmed that Loehmann decided not to take the job. Follmer cited "political pressure" as the reason Loehmann decided to rescind his application.
The village of Bellaire hired Loehmann last week to serve as a part-time police officer. Bellaire is a small town of about 4,000 people that borders the Ohio River at the West Virginia border.
Bellaire's police chief, Richard "Dick" Flanagan defended his decision in a statement to the Wheeling, West Virginia newspaper The Intelligencer: "(Loehmann) was cleared of any and all wrongdoing. He was never charged. It's over and done with."
Attempts to reach Flanagan on Wednesday were not successful.
Rice said during Wednesday's news conference that she strongly disagreed with Flanagan's decision to offer Loehmann a job, calling it a "personal attack on [her] family."
"[Loehmann] doesn't deserve any second chances," she said.
Rice said she has not spoken to Flanagan. But her Chicago-based attorney, Billy Joe Mills, reached Flanagan on Wednesday to discuss the job offer to Loehmann, she said.
Activists, including from the Cleveland chapter of Black Lives Matter, contacted Bellaire officials and residents in the days after Loehmann's job offer was made public. Rice and BLM organizer Kareem Henton credited those efforts for getting Loehmann to back out of the part-time job.
"This wouldn't have happened if it were not for outside forces putting pressure on Chief Flanagan," Henton said.
Loehmann shot and killed Tamir Nov. 14, 2014 outside the Cudell Recreation Center on the city's West Side. Loehmann was a rookie officer, and a passenger in a car driving by veteran training officer Frank Garmback.
The two officers responded to a 911 call about someone pointing a gun at people outside the recreation center. The 911 caller told a dispatcher that the gun looked fake, but that information was never relayed to the officers.
Garmback drove his car within feet of the now-demolished gazebo, and Loehmann shot the 12-year-old boy almost immediately after he got out of the car. Tamir died early the next morning at a Cleveland hospital.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Loehmann in Tamir's death, but the city of Cleveland fired him in May 2017, not for the shooting, but for lying on his application when he applied for his job.
One of the more glaring omissions was that Loehmann did not disclose that he was dismissed from the Independence Police Department after they determined he was unfit to serve on its department. His personnel file from that job noted that Loehmann broke down and cried on the shooting range.
Henton, during Wednesday's news conference, criticized the Bellaire Police Department for trying to hire Loehmann despite his history in Cleveland and Independence.
"Once again, you had a municipality that was going to hire him despite the warning signs," Henton said.
Loehmann has appealed the termination from his Cleveland job ,and the arbitration is still pending, said Henry Hilow, the attorney representing Loehmann in the arbitration case.
(c)2018 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland