The Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in a park after Rice displayed a toy gun was reportedly deemed unfit for duty by another police force just two years before the incident.
Officer Tim Loehmann shot Rice in Cleveland on Nov. 22, and the boy died the following day from his injuries. Loehmann told officials that he believed the boy had a real firearm, which is why he fired his own gun. However, Rice's death has set off calls for reformation within the police department and now more is being revealed about Loehmann's time as a police officer, not just with the Cleveland police force but with the department he worked with prior, in Independence.
"His handgun performance was dismal," deputy chief Jim Polak of the Independence, Ohio, police department wrote in an internal memo in 2012. He should also be "released from the employment of the City of Independence," the memo concluded. Loehmann "could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal. … It was clear to Sgt. Tinnirello (Loehmann's trainer) that the recruit was just not mentally prepared to be doing firearm training."
"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 concluded. "For these reasons, I am recommending he be released from the employment of the city of Independence. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies."
Loehmann then applied to the Cleveland police department and was hired in March 2014. It's unclear whether the Cleveland police force knew of the previous recommendation.
"I have not received any instruction about it, and I have not received the file," Sgt. Ali Pillow, a Cleveland police spokesman told The Guardian.
Loehmann and his partner pulled up to the park and shot Rice within seconds of arriving. Video of the entire encounter was released to the public by the Cleveland Police Department on Friday.
"I was right there and he went for the gun," Loehmann's father reported his son as saying, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. "I had no choice."
Rice was laid to rest on Wednesday; his family has called for the police department to investigate its procedures and training.
A grand jury will consider whether to charge Loehmann in connection to Rice's shooting.