Protesters who were outraged by a tiny borough in Pennsylvania’s decision to hire the former Cleveland officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old child slain at a playground while playing with a pellet gun in 2014, were successful in getting him fired. A day after the news broke, the individual resigned from his new position.
Timothy Loehmann, 32, is out of work once more. He resigned from his new post with the Tioga Police Department after national publicity prompted social justice activists to protest his hiring. The Borough of Tioga Council made the hire, but the mayor says he didn’t know all the specifics regarding the newly recruited cop.
He would have been the sole police officer in the Keystone State community of 600 to 700 people, with a racial mix of more than 97 percent white citizens and less than 1 percent Black persons, according to Census data.
The news of his hiring provoked national indignation and local disdain, with Tiogan people speaking out against the borough’s leadership.
Borough Council president Steve Hazlett announced his retirement on Thursday morning, telling The Associated Press, “The community spoke. They expressed their emotions, and we listened to them. We will react to it, and that will be the end of it.”
“We thank the community for coming forward and making their concerns heard,” he added.
Hazlett announced Loehmann’s hiring and swearing-in on Wednesday, July 6, 24 hours before he withdrew his candidacy.
Hazlett did not reveal how the Council’s police committee discovered Loehmann’s application, but he did say, “We advertise on Indeed.”
Some individuals questioned whether there was a link between the leader and the officer. While no certain link has been established, News One discovered an old Facebook post, which has since been deleted, supposedly of the Council president calling the deceased adolescent “stupid” and implying he got what he deserved.
On December 30, 2015, Steve Hazlett uploaded an essay on his social media profile titled “Can YOU Tell Which Of These Is A Fake Gun?” It’s the one Tamir Rice had in his hand.”
“Dumb enough to pull a fake gun, dumb enough to get shot,” Hazlett captioned the link.
According to Cleveland.com, the Rice family’s lawyer, Subodh Chandra, the choice to get the former office on board demonstrated the community’s lawmakers’ “atrociously terrible judgment.”
“While it is heartening that Loehmann will not be inflicting himself on the residents of Tioga,” she stated, “the officials of that town must be held accountable for their atrociously terrible judgment.”
Tioga’s mayor wanted everyone to know that he had no idea Rice’s killer was being used as the city’s point of contact with law enforcement.
“I had zero information of [about] the applicant that we just selected for our police department,” Mayor David Wilcox admitted, adding that he assumed the Council had scrutinized the selection.
According to the leadership, it is the Council’s job to conduct the search, conduct interviews, vet candidates, negotiate salaries, and recruit and discharge new police officers.
“I was under the notion that there was a comprehensive background check into him, that he didn’t have any concerns,” he remarked on Wednesday, following the announcement.
“I considered it odd that someone would come all the way from Cleveland, Ohio, to work here for $18 an hour.” But I heard he wanted to get away from everything and come here to hunt and fish.”
“I was told that there was a full background check, multiple phone calls made, and there were no negative marks on his record, and that he would be a terrific candidate for this community,” he said during an impromptu press conference on Facebook.
He also believed it was remarkable that Hazlett would do a swearing-in ceremony, which was no longer customary in the borough. “We don’t swear anyone in anymore,” Wilcox remarked.
Recognizing the animosity surrounding the hire, the mayor stated that he was unwilling to meet with Loehmann and the council regarding his visit to the town. “I don’t want this to tear our town apart,” Wilcox said of the decision, especially given he had no knowledge of Loehmann’s shooting of Rice.
Many agencies have had difficulties employing Loehmann as a member of their policing personnel since Rice’s death.
Loehmann, like Tioga, obtained part-time work in Bellaire, Ohio, in 2018 and quit shortly after starting. Rice’s death casts a cloud on him.
Loehmann, a rookie cop at the time, fatally shot Rice while he was playing with an airsoft pellet pistol at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland on November 22, 2014. He claims he thought it was a dangerous firearm.
He was in the passenger seat of a patrol car piloted by Officer Frank Garmback, an experienced training vet in the department, at the time.
The two received word that someone was holding a gun and pointing it at people outside the community center. The person who filed the report stated unequivocally that the gun appeared to be a forgery; nevertheless, this information was never communicated to the responding cops.
The gunman was not charged criminally, and Garmback only served five days of the original ten-day punishment he got for his role in the shooting.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to indict the officers in 2015, and federal prosecutors declined to present the matter to a grand jury.
Loehmann was eventually sacked by the city of Cleveland. He was fired in 2017 not for the Rice murder, but for lying on his application to the Cleveland police department.
The ex-cop failed to reveal that he was fired from the Independence Police Department after they found he was unqualified to serve in their department, according to city officials.
The Rices filed and won a federal civil-rights case against the city of Cleveland. The family received a $6 million settlement.