Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor
It is always tragic when anyone is killed. It doesn’t matter if it is accidental or intentional. The tragedy of someone dying is universal. However, when the person killed by a Cleveland Police Officer is a 12-year-old, tragic just doesn’t seem to describe it correctly. You will probably recall the recent case out of Cleveland, Ohio where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Officer Timothy Loehmann.
Tamir Rice was shot while playing in a Cleveland park. A citizen called 911 and suggested that a juvenile was pointing a gun, which was probably a toy, at people in the park. When Officer Loehmann and his partner answered the call they saw Tamir playing on a swing with the “weapon” in the waistband of his pants. Released videos suggested that Officer Loehmann fired at Tamir within 1-2 seconds of arriving at the park. That same video evidence also shows police throwing Tamir’s 14-year-old sister to the ground and handcuffing her.
When I first heard about the November 22nd, 2014 incident, I was shocked that a 12 year could be gun downed by a police officer. Even the recent stories about the police killing suspects in New Mexico, Missouri, New York City, to name a few, did not prepare me for this killing. Tamir was a 12-year-old child.
When the videos came out and when the truth about Officer Loehmann surfaced, I realized that Officer Loehmann was unfit for duty as a police officer anywhere and the Cleveland Police Department was negligent in hiring an unstable young man to patrol its streets. The decision to hire Officer Loehmann initiated the sad outcome in November.
When the personnel records of Officer Loehmann were recently released, it became apparent to any reasonable person that Loehmann was unfit to be a police officer anywhere, yet alone a large city police force. He had previously held a position for a mere 6 months with the Independence Ohio Police Department. During that short tenure, his supervisors documented an emotionally unstable individual who was unable to follow rules.
“Before Cleveland police department officer Timothy Loehmann tragically shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, he accumulated a record of emotional instability, disregard for training, and ineptitude for the job so severe that he should have never been hired. As you will see below, his previous supervisors in Independence, Ohio, said as much. As many as seven police departments and programs turned him down in the aftermath of his termination from Independence, but Cleveland, which claims they never checked his records, hired him. They should be held accountable for this mistake of fatal proportions.
It’s nearly impossible to find a documented case of someone less qualified to have a badge and a gun than officer Timothy Loehmann. It’s frightening, when reviewing the evidence, to think that he was ever hired and makes one wonder how many other times police departments have completely ignored human resource files when making hires for those expected to protect and serve us.
In 2012, Timothy Loehmann was hired by the Independence, Ohio police department. Even then, it was a mistake to hire him, but the department quickly and firmly tried to make it right. Below the fold is Timothy Loehmann’s entire personnel file from the Independence police department for you to review for yourself. Important highlights have been noted below it, including their statements on his poor performance in gun training, his continued emotional instability, his willingness to lie, and their final recommendation that he be terminated and never employed as an officer again.” Daily Kos
The Daily Kos article linked above includes a full listing of the personnel records of Mr. Loehmann and it is hard to read it and understand how he could have been wearing a Cleveland Police uniform on that fateful day last November. As unbelievable as it sounds, the Cleveland Police Department never reviewed Loehmann’s personnel file from the Independence Ohio Police Department.
You read that right, they have admitted that those past records were never reviewed before hiring Loehmann!
The idea that an employer would not review the prior work record of any employee is hard to imagine, especially when that job is for a position on the police force of Cleveland Ohio. I am not sure that the word negligence is accurate enough to describe the Cleveland Police Department’s severe lack of due diligence.
While our country continues to struggle with multiple police shootings and incidents of alleged police abuse that have resulted in loss of life, particularly in the minority community, it is disturbing to read that the latest example of police abuse could have been prevented by the Cleveland Police Department merely doing their minimal due diligence before hiring Officer Loehmann.
How can a police department that does not check the past work history of potential hires be trusted to make sure that their officers are not firing first and asking questions later? Shame on Officer Loehmann, but shame also on the Cleveland Police Department.
Will justice be done on behalf of Tamir Rice?
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