Responsible for fatally shooting a 12-year-old boy playing with an airsoft pellet gun, Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann was fired Tuesday for failing to disclose the reasons why he had resigned from a previous police department. During a recent press conference, city officials clarified that the officers involved in the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice were both receiving punishments based on administrative rule violations, not Rice’s death.
On November 22, 2014, CPD officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback responded to a 911 call about a possible juvenile scaring people with a “probably fake” gun. The police dispatcher failed to inform the officers of the caller’s doubts regarding the authenticity of the weapon.
As the patrol car approached 12-year-old Tamir Rice, a surveillance camera recorded Officer Loehmann jumping out of the vehicle and immediately firing two shots, with the fatal bullet hitting Rice in the abdomen. The officers later realized Rice had in his possession an airsoft pistol with the orange safety indicator removed.
An investigation conducted by Cleveland’s Critical Incident Review Committee (CIRC) found no fault in the officers’ actions leading up to the fatal shooting. In 2015, a grand jury declined to file criminal charges against Loehmann and Garmback. In March, the emergency dispatcher who handled the call was suspended eight days for violating protocol by failing to relay critical information to the responding officers.
Despite the fact that Loehmann and Garmback were not criminally charged, the city of Cleveland agreed to pay $6 million to Rice’s family in order to settle a federal lawsuit filed over their son’s death. According to the terms of the settlement, neither the dispatchers nor the officers involved will admit to any wrongdoing.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Michael McGrath, the city’s director of public safety, announced that the Cleveland Police Department had terminated Loehmann for failing to disclose the reasons for his resignation from the Independence Police Department while applying to become an officer for Cleveland PD. According to his supervisors, Loehmann was emotionally unfit and suffered a mental breakdown on the gun range in Independence.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams confirmed that Loehmann had been fired from the department while Garmback received a 10-day suspension for violating administrative rules. Garmback will also be required to attend an additional tactical training course due to his reckless driving in the moments prior to the fatal shooting.
“You know, it’s difficult when a child – in this case, a 12-year-old – loses their life,” stated Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson during the press conference on Tuesday. “It makes it even more challenging and more difficult in terms of accepting it if it happens at the hands of a police officer.”
“There’s a 12-year-old kid dead,” Chief Williams said during the news conference. “I mean, you know, people on both sides are going to say it wasn’t enough, it was too much. We have to go through our process. We have to be fair and objective to everyone in this process.”
According to Williams, the department changed its hiring policies in 2015 to begin checking every personnel and disciplinary file of officers applying from other police departments. Besides utilizing more body cameras, Cleveland officers have also started installing first aid kits inside their patrol cars.
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