The Sad and Negligent Decision to Hire Officer Timothy Loehmann


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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28 thoughts on “The Sad and Negligent Decision to Hire Officer Timothy Loehmann”

  1. BarkinDog-

    Not sure if you saw the article in the internet about the rug that was put up for auction because of the “typo” on the rug: It said “In Dog We Trust” instead of “In God We Trust.” I kid you not. Were you the one who caused the “typo”?

  2. Doesn’t former commenter, Blouise, work on a committee in Cleveland regarding police hiring screening?

  3. Pogo

    The American voter doesn’t care about the past of the candidate. Look at Bush. Grandfather laundered Nazi money well into 1942. Father was a CIA behind the scenes man. Clinton was a known womanizer. Little Brush was born with a silver spoon in every orifice, captain of cheerleaders at Yale-would never have got in without connections C- student, failed at all his business ventures even when given money, and was an obvious straw man for oligarchs. When the American voter likes someone and it comes down to two choices, well. Dean lost his shot cuz of a cosmetic gaffe. McCain probably lost cuz he chose Palin, OK that is more than cosmetic. At least Obama has a working brain.

    The point is the American voter is as shallow as the candidates elected. Any country that advertises pharmaceuticals on TV and spends 20% of the Pharmaceutical industry’s budget on advertising versus 16% on R & D, doesn’t produce a voter with too much depth. The US is the only country that relies on cartoon figures to guide the viewer through what kind of antidepressant to take. All the other countries rely on the doctors.

    Ya have to step back sometimes and get a clearer picture.

  4. fyi: The dispatcher who handled the Tamir Rice call was also hired by Cleveland after being FIRED in 2008 from a police dispatcher job at Case Western Reserve University (also in Cleveland).
    The reason for her termination has not been disclosed, but it happened the same month the dispatcher faced charges for bringing a gun into a bar. Was she convicted? Who knows? The case was swallowed whole by the court, according to reporters — no paper trail exists after case sent to grand jury.

    Link to story on dispatcher:

  5. It would have been interesting to have seen a certain junior Senator’s college transcripts when he was running for the highest office in the land, but that was a bridge too far.

    And yet here, when it’s just some entry-level cop in flyover land, you want to read personnel records.

    It’s like how my patients will closely scrutinize the side effects of every prescription, and want outcomes data before ingesting it, but will take any old supplement their neighbor takes who saw it on Dr. Oz.

  6. People tend to be very conservative about those things that affect them directly, like the hiring of competent and mature and safe police officers.

    Yet some of these same people will vote to weaken laws that allow employers to judge who will be competent, mature and safe employees, because they want to help people, abstract people that work for ‘someone else.’

    Laws increasingly hamstring employers and landlords from looking at the criminal records, credit risk, education, etc. You can’t get anything useful from prior employers, lease they be sued.

    The people wanted no accountability.
    This is what it looks like.

  7. Here is what my employer in Saint Louis used to do thirty years ago. The applicant for the job was asked: Where’d you go to high school? Answer: Berkeley. Then the staff would interview ten people who were teachers or students with the guy in Berkeley.
    The Where did you go to high school question is in fact known as The Saint Louis Question. The answer alone says a lot. Then the follow up questins with ten people reveals all. Never ask the Principal. They don’t know itShay.

  8. Dust Bunny Queen: that CA law does not extend to police department hiring. Police (if following procedure) in CA go through an extensive background check, and its also one of the few (if not only?) jobs that you can get polygraph tested for.

    And this law is not nuts — it protects people who have been arrested but not found guilty. In CA a private employer can ask someone only if they have been convicted of a crime, excluding some smaller marijuana offenses. What if you were arrested tomorrow allegedly for some heinous crime, but you did not actually do the crime? And your innocence comes to light–you are acquitted, or maybe even before then the charges are dropped. Is it fair that in the future, because this is on your “record” that an employer can decide not to hire you based upon this heinous crime you did not do? After all, this protects against the fact that all too often, law enforcement is quick to arrest and use force, which is ironically what this article is about in the first place.

  9. With the records as damning as they are, one wonders if they read the records and hired him due to nepotism ( father is a cop) and find it less damning to look incompetent in hiring practices.

  10. The real problem here is obvious: “Useless laws weaken necessary laws” & “Laws undertake to punish only overt acts”

  11. This is the way it always goes: “Useless laws weaken necessary laws” & “Laws undertake to punish only overt acts” The real problem here is obvious.

  12. As someone who has done hiring, personnel records are usually not available. Employers are limited in what they can say to perspective employers. And often times they actually do not check your background, or only do it at a surface level.

  13. I see that he had no disciplinary actions against him…..sort of like the prior arrest that did not lead to conviction,. Although he “resigned” it was pretty obvious that he was forced out.

    Covering up and hiding the true facts of the case on the part of Independence Police Department and a failure to even exercise the merest level of due diligence by the Cleveland Police.

    Shameful all around.

  14. Just out of curiosity, did this officer even disclose that he had been an officer in Independence? When an HR department does a check on a potential hire, is there somewhere that they would have knowledge of this without his disclosure?

    I’m not condoning the actions of this “Officer” nor the department he worked for…I’m just wondering how and where HR get their information?

  15. California places all sorts of restrictions on employers who are hiring that prevents them from getting criminal records or even ASKING about such events.

    Exerpt: “California Protections for Job Seekers With Criminal Records

    State laws provide a variety of protections for job seekers with criminal records. California places more restrictions on employers than many others. For example, California employers may not ask applicants about a prior arrest that did not lead to conviction, nor may they ask about an applicant’s referral to or participation in a pretrial or post-trial diversion program. Employers also may not seek or use records relating to these arrests. However, the law allows employers to ask about arrests for which the applicant is awaiting trial (for example, because the applicant is out on bail or has been released on his or her own recognizance pending trial).

    California also prohibits employers from asking about convictions that have been sealed, expunged, or statutorily eradicated. Employers also may not ask about certain older marijuana offenses. However, an employer may ask job-related questions relating to a conviction.”

    This is nuts!!! How can you hire someone without being allowed to know their background. Perhaps it is one one of multiple arrests that do not lead to convictions. Petty theft or domestic violence reports. I don’t know about other areas but the “catch and release” activity in this county is horrific. Commit a crime. Get released because no time to convict or the jails are full. Get released. Commit a crime….rinse and repeat…..rinse and repeat.

    I would HOPE that this prohibition does not extend police type jobs. The ability to screen out criminals and the mentally unstable from your employment is important it is CRUCIAL when it comes to police and others who are armed with a license to kill.

    Serious questions: Did the Cleveland Police Department have access to those files on this bad officer? Or where they denied by some sort of ridiculous bureaucratic laws from having access? If they had access and didn’t even bother with a background check that is frightening. How many other bad seeds are out there? If they were denied access….that is even more frightening. Ridiculous.

    Employers of ALL kinds, private or government, should be able to do background checks on their potential hires. To protect the employer. To protect the customers. To protect the PUBLIC from bad or unstable police.

  16. This case is a plaintiff attorney’s wet dream.

    Unfortunately, a 12 year old does not have much earning capacity, nor does he have financial responsibilities, so the damages are quite small. We have to rely on the jury’s desire to send a message about police brutality.

    Again unfortunately, it is the people of Cleveland who will pay – the CPD will just go on as before.

    The real issue is: “What kind of department creates a culture where a 12 year old boy is shot before anybody analyzes (other than saying “gun/kill”) whether he is a threat?”.

    What kind of moral degenerate will tackle a 14 year old girl on her way to help her brother (and then lock her in a car in plain sight of her dying brother)?

    What kind of A-H’s will stand and watch a 12 year old boy bleed out without trying to render assistance?

    All-in-all, an incident that revels much about the CPD (and I fear much about the mindset of many cops).

  17. In my view Cleveland should be budgeting for the wrongful death action by the family because I suspect a jury will hand them an expensive damage award.

    From his former employer’s personnel file, I do not see him as being hired by another agency.

    If I was the range officer when his meltdown occurred, based upon what was reported, I would be greatly worried he might be considering offing himself and was going through this emotionalism due to the conflict it brought him. Removing him from the range was the right course of action.

    I suspect there were other reasons to do so, but from what I read I cannot see any reasonable agency not terminating him for failing his probation.

    I wonder if Cleveland did a pre-hire psych on him.

    Sad that the boy paid such a terrible price after all this.

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