Timothy Loehmann, the former Cleveland Police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice four years ago, has withdrawn his application to the Bellaire Police Department in Ohio, Police Chief Dick Flanagan told WTOV-TV Wednesday.
Rice’s death in 2014 caused protests in Cleveland and stirred a national debate about police interactions with African-Americans.
A Cuyahoga County Grand jury refused to bring criminal charges against Loehmann after the shooting death of the unarmed youth, but Cleveland police fired him in May 2017 for an unrelated matter, according to NBC News.
Flanagan told WTOV-TV that since it decided to hire Loehmann, the department had been flooded with complaints, so much so that it tied up phone lines and prevented the small department from carrying out work.
“In this process, our citizens suffered a lot out of this because our phone lines were so jammed up,” Flanagan told the television station. “The entire county — not just Bellaire – couldn’t get police or EMS services because they couldn’t get through anywhere. I think at one time they received over 250-260 phone calls from 8:30 in the morning to 12:30 in the afternoon.”
Flanagan said Loehmann called himself to withdraw his name from being hired to the city’s police force.
“I had accepted his withdrawal from the Bellaire Police Department and he proceeded to tell me that he wanted to pursue the legal end of what’s going on there in Cleveland, and he just doesn’t have the time,” Flanagan said, per WTOV-TV.
“He knows fully well of the pressures of all of this. He’s been through enough for a couple years. He cared about the community. He didn’t want no protests, no violence, nothing of that nature,” the chief added.
Samaria Rice, Tamir Rice’s mother, said during a news conference with Black Lives Matter activists, that “thousands” of people contacted the police department after the news was announced about Loehmann’s hiring, NBC News stated.
“It feels like a personal attack on our family at the hands of the Bellaire Police Department,” Samaria Rice said before learning that Loehmann had declined the job, according to the network. “It is also putting the safety of innocent people at risk.”
Loehmann shot and killed Rice outside of Cleveland’s Cudell Recreation Center after he and his partner, Frank Garmback, received a 911 call about someone pointing a gun at people, NBC News.
The caller told the dispatcher that the gun looked fake, but that information was never told to the officers, the network stated. Loehmann fired on Rice, who had a toy gun, within seconds of getting out of his squad car, per NBC News.
The youth died the next day at a Cleveland hospital, the network stated.