The Slatest

Officer Who Shot Tamir Rice Has Been Fired, but Not for Shooting Tamir Rice

The park in Cleveland where Tamir Rice was shot by a police officer.

Jordan Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images

Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by police in November 2014 because he was holding a toy gun at a Cleveland park. On Tuesday, it was announced that the rookie cop who killed him, Timothy Loehmann, has been fired from the Cleveland Division of Police following the conclusion of an investigation into the shooting.

The move to fire Loehmann—which came about a year and a half after a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to indict the officer—did not come as a result of his decision to fire on Rice within two seconds of approaching him in a police cruiser. Rather, Loehmann lost his job on account of his failure to disclose crucial details about his work history. According to Cleveland.com, Loehmann’s personnel file from his time at the Independence Police Department said he had “an inability to emotionally function,” and cited an emotional breakdown he had suffered on a gun range.

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Loehmann, who worked as a police officer in Independence, Ohio, for about six months before he was allowed to resign, was described in a letter written by the deputy chief of that department as someone who “could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal.” In conclusion, the deputy chief wrote, “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.”

Cleveland.com reports Loehmann was fired for not mentioning any of that—as well as a written exam he’d failed when applying for a different job—on his Cleveland job application.

Loehmann’s partner, Frank Garmback, was also disciplined on Tuesday with a 10-day suspension without pay. According to the disciplinary letter filed in his case, Garmback used improper tactics when responding to the 911 call that alerted police about Rice.

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Garmback, as I wrote about in 2015, was driving the cruiser in which Loehmann was a passenger, and it was he who drove right up to Rice instead of hanging back and evaluating the situation from a safe distance. As a result of Garmback’s aggressive approach, Loehmann could claim to have reasonably thought his life was in danger. Rice, who was holding a realistic-looking toy gun, could have fired at him from close range if that gun were real. The sequence of events that led to Rice’s death was a clear case of “officer-created jeopardy”: a situation in which the use of lethal force only became “reasonable” in the legal sense because of what the officers themselves did.

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