Cleveland Police Fires Timothy Loehmann, The Police Officer Who Shot Tamir Rice

In a major development in the Tamir Rice shooting incident, Cleveland Police officials earlier today announced that they have fired 26-year-old Timothy Loehmann, the officer who fired the fatal bullet at Tamir Rice in 2014. Frank Garmback, the 46-year-old officer who was driving the police patrol car along with Loehmann, would be suspended for a period 20 days starting Wednesday. According to the New York Times, the Cleveland Police Department took the decision after completing an “exhaustive” investigation into the incident. In a press conference called into announce the new developments, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams clarified that Loehmann’s firing starts with “immediate effect.” As for Frank Garmback, he would also be required to undergo additional tactical training after his ten-day suspension ends.

In a statement to the media, Mr. Williams added the following.

“This has been tough on our entire community, and definitely on the Rice family. When this happened in 2014, I made the comment that this is, of course, a tragedy, but it’s even more tragic that it happened at the hands of a Cleveland police officer.”

It was on November 22, 2014, that 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by Loehmann. On the day of the incident, Loehmann and Garmback responded to a dispatch call in which they were informed about “a black male sitting on a swing and pointing a gun at people” in a city park. While the original caller had repeatedly conveyed that the weapon that the person had was “probably fake,” and that he was “probably a juvenile,” these vital pieces of information was not shared with the responding officers. When the officers approached Rice, the boy reportedly attempted to reach towards the gun in his waistband. Loehmann, fearing that Rice was about to use the weapon to fire at them took his gun and fired two shots at Rice. As required by law, Loehmann did not issue a verbal warning asking Rice to drop the gun – before he fired the fatal shots. Rice was hit in the torso, and he died the next day. In a surveillance video released shortly after Tamir Rice’s death, it was revealed that Loehmann had fired at him within two seconds of stopping the patrol car.

Tamir Rice's shooting led to nationwide protest across the United States

On October 10, nearly 20 days after the shooting, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office released two reports in which it was concluded that the shooting of Tamir Rice was “reasonable” under the given circumstances. The Rice family countered these reports and claimed that they had a pro-police bias. On December 28, a grand jury refused to indict both the officers and said as follows.

“Given this perfect storm of human error, mistakes, and communications by all involved that day, the evidence did not indicate criminal conduct by police.”

Rice’s mother, however, alleged that the investigation was sabotaged.

“Prosecutor McGinty deliberately sabotaged the case, never advocating for my son, and acting instead like the police officers.”

More than two years after the incident, in January, the Cleveland Police Department announced that they had conducted an additional inquiry into the shooting due to which a third officer named William Cunningham would face administrative charges. Two months later in March 2017, the emergency dispatcher who informed both the officers about Tamir Rice was suspended for eight days from work. The investigation deduced that the dispatcher had violated standard protocol in the way she handled the call. Following the shooting of Tamir Rice, further investigation on the history of officer Loehmann revealed that in his previous job at Independence, a Cleveland suburb, he was deemed and “emotionally unstable” recruit who was unfit for duty. Rice’s shooting and his death had resulted in massive protests across the United States. His killing has also been cited as one of the police killings that resulted in the strengthening of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

[Featured Image by Mark Duncan/AP Images]