The controversy over the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice grew even larger on Wednesday with the emergence of a report on the Cleveland police officer who fired the fatal shots. According to new reports, the police force the officer worked for before found him to be unfit for duty, leading to him leaving his position on the force.
On November 22 of this year, Officer Timothy Loehmann, 26, shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, whom the officer believed to be reaching for a handgun. Upon closer inspection, the officers realized that Rice did not have a firearm but instead a toy gun.
The ensuing controversy saw the release of security footage of the shooting, footage that some contend shows the officers didn’t give Rice enough time to respond to their commands to drop his weapon. Indeed, the video appears to show that Loehmann fired his sidearm within two seconds of exiting his car, even as Rice was reaching toward his waist, perhaps to demonstrate to officers that it was a toy he was carrying and not a real firearm.
Now, NBC News reports that the Independence Police Department has released Loehmann’s personnel records from when he quit his job on that police force. Those records show that Loehmann left his $42,157-a-year job as a patrolman in training on December 3, 2012. Loehmann’s resignation came just five months after he was hired onto the job and a day after he graduated from the Cleveland Heights Police Academy.
In the report, Deputy Chief Jim Polak recommended that Loehmann be dismissed rom his position, citing a strange incident in which Loehmann showed up for training “distracted” and “weepy.” The report continued that Loehmann was unable to “communicate clear thoughts” and that “his handgun performance was dismal.”
The incident leading up to that assessment seems to have stemmed from a personal matter, as the report (PDF) quotes Loehmann as saying, “I have cried every day for 4 months about this girl,” “I have no friends,” and “I only hangout with 73 yr old priests.” Loehmann is described in the incident as having been “very downtrodden, melancholy with some light crying.”
The report also cites “three other incidents” regarding Loehmann, including one wherein the new police officer was said to have improperly secured his firearm. In another incident, Loehmann reportedly removed his bulletproof vest when a sergeant had instructed him to wear it in order to get used to it. Asked why he wasn’t wearing his vest, Loehmann reportedly said “that he was too warm, so he took it off.”
These incidents, according to the assessment, would not be considered major situations on their own. Taken together, though, the report concludes that “they show a pattern of a lack of maturity, indiscretion and not following instructions.”
“Due to this dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment,” Polak wrote of Loehmann. “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.”