Cleve­land of­fi­cer who killed Tamir Rice is fired

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA WORLD - DAKE KANG

CLEVE­LAND — The po­lice of­fi­cer who shot and killed Tamir Rice was fired Tues­day for fail­ing to dis­close that he had been forced out of an­other depart­ment be­fore Cleve­land hired him, while his part­ner was sus­pended for driv­ing too close to the 12-year-old sec­onds be­fore the boy was killed.

Cleve­land Po­lice Chief Calvin Wil­liams an­nounced the dis­ci­pline against of­fi­cers Timothy Loehmann, who shot the boy, and Frank Garm­back, who was driv­ing the cruiser.

Tamir, who was black, was shot out­side a recre­ation cen­tre in Novem­ber 2014 as he held a pel­let gun that the white of­fi­cers mis­took for a real firearm. The killing be­came part of a na­tional out­cry about po­lice vi­o­lence against black boys and men. The of­fi­cers weren’t charged crim­i­nally, but Tamir’s mother set­tled a fed­eral civil rights law­suit with the city for $6 mil­lion.

Loehmann was fired be­cause the depart­ment con­cluded he wasn’t truth­ful on his job ap­pli­ca­tion, fail­ing to re­veal that a sub­ur­ban depart­ment had al­lowed him to re­sign in­stead of be­ing fired at the end of a six-month pro­ba­tion­ary pe­riod. An eval­u­a­tion in the sub­ur­ban depart­ment’s file had said Loehmann had a “dis­mal” hand­gun performance, broke down in tears at the gun range and was emo­tion­ally im­ma­ture.

Garm­back was sus­pended for 10 days for vi­o­lat­ing a tac­ti­cal rule for his driv­ing that day, with a dis­ci­plinary let­ter say­ing he drove too close to Tamir. Video of the shoot­ing shows the pa­trol car skid­ding to a stop just feet from the boy.

The of­fi­cers’ union said it was chal­leng­ing the dis­ci­pline, while Tamir’s mother said both of­fi­cers should have been fired.

The two of­fi­cers had gone to the cen­tre af­ter a man wait­ing for a bus called 911 to re­port a “guy” was point­ing a gun. He told the dis­patcher that the guy could be a ju­ve­nile and the gun might be a “fake,” in­for­ma­tion that wasn’t con­veyed to the of­fi­cers. Loehmann shot Tamir within two sec­onds af­ter the po­lice cruiser stopped near the boy.

A county pros­e­cu­tor an­nounced in De­cem­ber 2015 that Loehmann and Garm­back wouldn’t be in­dicted.

Af­ter that, Wil­liams or­dered a com­mit­tee to de­ter­mine if the of­fi­cers vi­o­lated depart­ment rules.

“There’s a 12-year-old kid, dead. Peo­ple on both sides are go­ing to say, ‘It wasn’t enough, it was too much,’” said Wil­liams. “We have to be fair and ob­jec­tive.”

Stephen Loomis of the Cleve­land Po­lice Pa­trol­man’s As­so­ci­a­tion called the dis­ci­pline “un­jus­ti­fied” and said the union filed griev­ances min­utes af­ter they were an­nounced.

“This is a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated witch hunt,” Loomis said. “Those of­fi­cers acted ap­pro­pri­ately and within the guide­lines they had to work with.”

Loomis called Loehmann’s fir­ing a “joke,” say­ing that of­fi­cers haven’t been fired in the past over job ap­pli­ca­tions.

Tamir’s mother, Sa­maria Rice, said she was re­lieved Loehmann was fired. “He should never have been a po­lice of­fi­cer,” she said. But she said Garm­back also should have been fired for driv­ing so close to her son.

She and her at­tor­ney, Su­bodh Chan­dra, said Cleve­land city agen­cies suf­fered from sys­tem­atic prob­lems and that they hope a Depart­ment of Jus­tice in­ves­ti­ga­tion will lead to rare fed­eral civil rights charges.

“Shame on the city of Cleve­land for tak­ing so long to deal with the sit­u­a­tion,” said Sa­maria Rice. “We still need ac­count­abil­ity.”

Cleve­land po­lice brass said they have taken steps to curb the use of deadly force and over­haul their hir­ing process.

Two of­fi­cers were dis­ci­plined in 2015 for fail­ing to thor­oughly check Loehmann’s per­son­nel file be­fore he was hired. Wil­liams said the depart­ment now makes sure to read through all ap­pli­cants’ per­son­nel files and em­ploy­ment his­tory.

Ear­lier this year, the 911 op­er­a­tor who took the call about Tamir was sus­pended for eight days for fail­ing to tell the ra­dio dis­patcher that the caller had said Tamir could be a ju­ve­nile and the gun might be fake.

MICHAEL F. MCEL­ROY, NEW YORK TIMES

Sa­maria Rice, right, with her daugh­ter Ta­jai at Cudell Com­mons, where Tamir Rice was killed.

Tamir Rice

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