The officer at the center of the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Cleveland boy Tamir Rice had a record of not being able to handle his firearm. While working for an Ohio suburban police squad, the officer displayed traits that revealed he was not up to the job.
Tim Loehmann, the Cleveland police officer that shot and killed Rice, previously worked for the Independence Police Department. During firearms training, Loehmann was reportedly “distracted” and “weepy” while trying to pass a qualifications exam. The revelation of Loehmann’s ineptitude was found in a November 2012 letter in the officer’s personnel file.
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“He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal,” according to the letter written by Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence police.
The letter recommended that the department part ways with Loehmann, who went on to become a police officer with the Cleveland Division of Police.
“I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies,” Polak said.
Cleveland Police Department officials say that they never reviewed those files but says it changed its policies going forward. The department promises to check the files of potential hires from this point on.
Loehmann is under investigation by the Department and his use of deadly force. Homicide detectives and a special team are looking at all details of the Nov. 22 shooting, which took place outside the Cudell Recreation Center. Loehmann shot and killed Rice after responding to a complaint about the boy carrying a gun, which turned out to be a toy.
Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder announced earlier Thursday that the Department of Justice will investigate the matter in Cleveland. The Justice Department and the city of Cleveland agreed to reforms to the division of police in light of the incident.
Photo: Family Handout