The former Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 withdrew from the police force of a Pennsylvania town Thursday amid backlash and media coverage over his hiring.
Timothy Loehmann was sworn in Tuesday as the lone police officer in Tioga — a community of about 600 in rural north-central Pennsylvania, 300 miles (480 kilometers) from Cleveland — but left the $18-per-hour position without having worked a single shift, according to borough council President Steve Hazlett.
“The community spoke. They got their feelings out, and we listened to them and we’re going to react to it and that will be that,” he said in a phone interview. “We thank the community for stepping forward and letting their voices be heard.”
Messages seeking comment were left at phone numbers associated with Loehmann.
Tamir, who was Black, was playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center in Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2014, when he was shot and killed by Loehmann seconds after Loehmann and his partner arrived. The officers, who are white, told investigators Loehmann had shouted three times at Tamir to raise his hands.
The shooting sparked community protests about police treatment of Black people, especially after a grand jury decided not to indict Loehmann or his partner.
Cleveland settled a lawsuit over Tamir’s death for $6 million, and the city ultimately fired Loehmann for having lied on his application to become a police officer.
Loehmann has since made multiple attempts to find work in law enforcement. He landed a part-time position with a police department in the southeast Ohio village of Bellaire in October 2018 but withdrew his application days later after Tamir’s mother, Samaria, and others criticized the hiring.
The circumstances of Loehmann’s arrival in Tioga began to emerge Thursday.
At first, Hazlett, the council president, declined to say whether Loehmann told council about the Tamir Rice case when he applied, or whether council knew of his background when voting to hire him. But in a later interview, Hazlett told The Associated Press that “Tim held nothing back” in his application. “He was upfront with everything. That’s all I can say,” Hazlett said.
A council subcommittee reviewed Loehmann’s application and interviewed him, then made a favorable recommendation to the full council, according to Hazlett. He said the full council was not privy to Loehmann’s application file. Hazlett, who said he took part in the subcommittee review, declined to say why he supported Loehmann’s hiring.
Mayor David Wilcox called for the resignations of Hazlett and two other council members he said knew about Loehmann’s background, declaring in a Facebook post Thursday: “You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
The mayor told Cleveland.com he “was under the impression that there was a thorough background check into him, that he didn’t have any issues.”
Wilcox has said he was not involved in the hiring process.
Word that Loehmann had been hired by Tioga drew protesters to the borough building on Wednesday night and brought condemnation from Tamir’s family.
“While it’s all well and good that Loehmann will not be inflicting a reign of terror with a badge and a gun upon Tioga Borough residents and visitors, borough officials must be held accountable for their demonstrably, atrociously poor judgment and ineptitude,” Subodh Chandra, an attorney for the family, said in a statement Thursday.
“This game of whack-a-mole with Loehmann shamelessly and repeatedly resurfacing as a cop elsewhere needs to end,” he said.
The council will meet next week to take action on Loehmann’s withdrawn application and consider next steps, according to Hazlett. He said Tioga still hopes to hire a police officer.
SOURCE: The Associated Press, Michael Rubinkam