A Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 has been fired. And no, it’s not because he shot and killed Tamir.
Mayor Frank Jackson announced at a press conference on Tuesday that Officer Timothy Loehmann has been fired, effective immediately, after an investigation deduced that he lied on his job application. This might sound insignificant, but it’s–unfortunately–one of the closest things resembling justice that the Rice family may ever receive.
Here’s some backstory: In 2014, Officer Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, responded to a 911 call about a boy with a gun near a recreation center. Though the caller said that the gun was “probably fake,” the emergency dispatcher didn’t properly relay that–or the fact that the suspect was, in fact, a child–to the responding officers. Video footage from a nearby security camera captured Loehmann and Garmback zooming in their cruiser toward Tamir. Loehmann jumped out of the passenger seat and, two seconds later, shot and killed Tamir, his body landing in a patch of snow. The gun that Tamir was playing with was, indeed, merely a pellet gun, far from the lethal weapon that the officers anticipated.
While this seemed to be such an egregious abuse of power, such a hasty, unprincipled approach to policing, so reckless to anyone who watched the horrific black and white footage of the shooting, a grand jury acquitted both officers in 2015, essentially deciding that no wrong doing occurred.
This was a hard fate to bare for anyone who cares about justice and the value of black lives, especially in the wake of a string of police violence against unarmed black youths. But Tamir’s death could have been prevented, and Loehmann’s sudden firing emphasizes that. Why? Because the lies on Loehmann’s job application to the Cleveland Police Department were paramount. Loehmann withheld vital information that could have prevented him from becoming a police officer in the first place.
Loehmann was only on the job for eight months when he shot Tamir. When Loehmann applied for the job, he claimed that he left a previous police job in a nearby town for personal reason. In reality, his former employer deemed him unfit to be a police officer, claiming that the had an, “inability to emotionally function.” For whatever reason, the department allowed him to resign instead of firing him. But wait, it gets worse: Subsequently, he applied to become a police officer in another town, but he failed the written examination. Loehmann disclosed none of this to the Cleveland Police Department, and one could only hope that if he did, he wouldn’t have been fired.
Maybe if Loehmann was never hired, Tamir could have been approached by a competent officer who asked questions first before shooting. Maybe Tamir could be just another teenager dealing with finals, flirting on Snapchat, thinking about summer vacation. Instead, his family has been without his presence for over two and a half years, and Loehmann’s firing is too little, too late.
What do you think of Loehmann’s firing? Do you think that more should have been done to punish him and his partner in the wake of Tamir’s death? Tell us in the comments!