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Cleveland Fires Officer Who Fatally Shot Tamir Rice, Citing Job Application

Officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann approach Tamir Rice in a zone car in this still from surveillance footage at Cudell recreation center. (Cleveland police)
Officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann approach Tamir Rice in a zone car in this still from surveillance footage at Cudell recreation center.

The city of Cleveland has fired the police officer who shot a 12-year-old boy in November 2014, saying Officer Timothy Loehman was terminated for providing false information on his job application.

Loehmann fatally shot Tamir Rice within seconds of arriving at a city park. The 12-year-old had been playing with what turned out to be an air gun. A 9-1-1 caller said the gun was “probably fake,” but that information was not relayed to responding officers.

Internal reviews did not fault Loehmann for firing his weapon. But he was cited for not disclosing in his application that he would have been terminated from a previous police job had he not resigned.

Officer Frank Garmback, who was driving that day, was suspended for 10 days for violating policy in the approach to the scene.

“There’s a 12-year-old kid dead,” Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said. “People on both sides are going to say it wasn’t enough, it was too much. You know, we have to go through our process, we have to be fair and objective to everybody involved in the process.”

Samaria Rice, Tamir's mother, listens to a reporter's question alongside her attorney Subodh Chandra. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

The union representing patrol officers will appeal the discipline, president Steve Loomis said at a news conference on Tuesday. Loomis called the firing and suspension a “politically motivated witch hunt,” noting that Loehmann’s termination was unrelated to the shooting.

“They couldn’t put Tim Loehmann up on charges for anything having to do with that,” Loomis said. “So what do they do, they go look at his job application? Are you kidding me? We have some discrepancies in his job application? It’s a joke.”

The Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association has succeeded in the past in having police discipline overturned or reduced in arbitration. But Williams said he expects the decision will remain in place.

“We have every expectation that the decision will stick,” Williams said. “We went through a two-year process in making these decisions, so we expect them to be upheld.”

Tamir Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, said she was relieved by the firing.

“It could partially start the healing for me and my family,” Rice said in a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “He shouldn’t have never been no officer, like I said, in the first place. And shame on the city of Cleveland for taking so long to deal with this situation.”

A grand jury in 2015 declined to indict either officer. 

With reporting by Matthew Richmond.

Nick Castele is a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media.