On November 22, 2014, within seconds of his patrol car being stopped, rookie Cleveland police officer Tim Loehmann pulled his gun and killed Tamir Rice, a black twelve-year-old boy.
This is the very same officer who had been found to be mentally unfit to serve in law enforcement by a nearby Ohio police department less than two years earlier.
According to internal records recently released by the City of Independence Police Department, Loehmann was recommended to be dismissed from the force due in large part to his emotional instability.
In a November 2012 internal police memo, training officer Sergeant Tinnirello described Loehmann as being “weepy and distracted,” with his emotional state causing him to be incapable of following “simple instructions,” “unable to communicate clear thoughts” and not “prepared to be doing firearm training.”
The memo states that at one point Loehmann’s gun had to be taken away from him and that he had lost his composure to such an extent that Loehmann was unable to even get out of his police car during a routine stop.
Loehamnn told his training officer that:
“I should have gone to NY.” “[M}aybe I should quit.” “I have no friends.” “I only hang out with 73 yr old priests.” And “I have cried every day for 4 months.”
In referencing Loehmann’s leaving his gun unlocked, lying to his supervisors and failing to follow orders, the most damming assessment of Leohmann’s capability to serve as police officer was made by Sergeant Tinnirello:
“I do not believe that time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”
In recommending his separation from the Independence Police Department, a deputy chief of police stressed Loehmann’s lack of maturity due to his
“dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage personal stress.”
Within a week of this memorandum being placed in his personnel file, Loehmann resigned from the Independence Police Department. However by March 2014, Loehmann was hired by the Cleveland Police Department without the department obtaining Loehmann’s prior personnel file.
Apparently during his interview with the Cleveland Division of Police Loehmann merely indicated that he had resigned from the Independence Police Department for “personal reasons.”
In the aftermath of the killing of Tamir Rice, Cleveland police claim that they were unaware of Loehmann’s past and had not bothered to obtain his prior personnel file before hiring the officer to serve and protect the citizens of Cleveland.
In an effort to correct this oversight, Cleveland is now amending its hiring process by announcing:
“The Cleveland Division of Police does not have a written policy mandating a review of an applicant’s previous employer personnel file. While our policy does not require obtaining a personnel file prior to employment, the Cleveland Division of Police has amended our policies to request a personnel file from previous employers.”
Regardless of whether Loehmann is eventually cleared of wrongdoing in causing the death of young Tamir Rice, the question remains as to why such an emotionally unfit individual was given a gun and placed in a position of stress.
A thorough review of Loehmann’s documented “ deficiencies” could have averted this tragic situation from even happening.
The full Video of Tamir Rice, prior to and after he was shot to death by Officer Loehmann: