Civil Liberties

Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice Was Previously Kicked off Force for 'Dismal' Gun Performance, Emotional Instability


Tamir Rice

Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice within two seconds of encountering the boy, was deemed "unfit for duty" while serving on another police force. Supervisors specifically cited his "dismal" handgun performance and emotional instability when they forced him to resign in December 2012.

Loehmann was previously employed by the City of Independence. During a training exercise at a gun range, he became "distracted and weepy," according to information obtained by The Guardian:

Officer Timothy Loehmann, who killed Tamir Rice on 22 November, was specifically faulted for breaking down emotionally while handling a live gun. During a training episode at a firing range, Loehmann was reported to be "distracted and weepy" and incommunicative. "His handgun performance was dismal," deputy chief Jim Polak of the Independence, Ohio, police department wrote in an internal memo.

The memo concludes with a recommendation that Loehmann be "released from the employment of the City of Independence". Less than a week later, on 3 December 2012, Loehmann resigned.

Loehmann was hired by Cleveland PD in March of this year. It isn't clear whether the department knew about his previous struggles. If it didn't, then apparently his background check was neglected. If it did—and hired him anyway—that's even more damning.

Rice was killed while playing with a fake gun at the park. The toy's orange cap had been removed, rendering it impossible to distinguish from a real gun. Even so, the 911 caller who alerted the authorities told them that the boy he spied playing with a weapon was probably carrying a fake. It's not clear whether Loehmann was given that information; the police union has said that he wasn't.

Regardless, video surveillance shows Loehmann drive up to Rice and kill him within two seconds.

The shooting is an outrage, even if Loehmann had an impeccable record. But this latest news does make it worse, and shows that the department deserves some blame.