The white Cleveland police officer who shot black 12-year-old Tamir Rice within seconds of arriving on the scene was effectively dismissed from a smaller, suburban police department two years ago. About an emotional breakdown Officer Timothy Loehmann had on the gun range, his then-supervisor wrote, “leads one to believe that he would not be able to substantially cope, or make good decisions, during or resulting from any other stressful situation.” That’s according to a damning five-page letter (see pp 56-60) written in November 2012 by Deputy Chief of Police Jim Polak of Independence, Ohio. The letter was released this week as part of Loehmann’s 60-page personnel file. Polak ended his review of Loehmann, who was on the force six months, by “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.” Rather than firing him, It appears that Independence allowed Loehmann to resign. Cleveland’s police department hired him this past March.
Polak’s letter raises broader questions around police hiring and, in particular, how transfers between jurisdictions are handled. As local media reported this morning, Cleveland police did not review Loehmann’s Independence file before hiring him.
Attorney General Eric Holder is expected in Cleveland today, The Department of Justice has been investigating excessive force complaints long levied at Cleveland’s police department.
Hundreds of mourners gathered yesterday for the funeral of 12-year-old Rice, who had been playing with a replica toy gun at the time of the shooting. According to early reports, dispatch did not relay crucial information to responding officers that his gun “was probably fake” and that Rice was “probably a juvenile.” Video of the incident showed that officers shot Rice within two seconds of arriving on the scene.