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Timothy Loehmann, officer who killed Tamir Rice, hired by the Pennsylvania town of Tioga; faced with kickback

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The former Cleveland cop who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 was hired this week as the lone police officer in a small Pennsylvania town, nearly eight years after the boy’s murder sparked nationwide protests against the use of drugs. deadly violence by law enforcement against Black people.

Timothy Loehmann was sworn in Tuesday in Tioga, Pennsylvania, Borough President Steve Hazlett wrote on social media. The City Council vote came after the Williamsport Sun-Gazette and local media heard the officer’s name. A photo and caption of Hazlett on Facebook clarified that the officer hired to represent the borough of approximately 700 people was Loehmann, who was fired from the Cleveland Police Department in 2017 for lying on his application but not facing criminal charges. prosecuted in connection with Rice’s death. Rice was carrying a shotgun on a playground when he was shot and killed by Loehmann in November 2014.

“Timothy Loehmann is your new Tioga police officer,” Hazlett wrote.

The hiring has sparked protests and outrage in recent days, including from Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother, who told The Washington Post the decision was “a big mistake.”

“He shouldn’t be a police officer anywhere in the United States,” she said, adding that she was outraged and concerned for the Tioga community. “I’m actually shocked that someone would give him a job, knowing what he did to my family.”

Subodh Chandra, the lawyer for Rice’s family and his estate, told The Post on Thursday that he was “shocked yet not surprised”.

“Timothy Loehmann has shown a level of shameless determination to rub his behavior into the faces of Tamir Rice’s family and the wider world,” Chandra said. “The level of bad judgment here by the Tioga Borough Council is really unfathomable, and I hope they will be held accountable.”

Tioga mayor David Wilcox said he was unaware of Loehmann’s background when city council members found the officer and agreed to hire him. Wilcox told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he was not given a chance to review Loehmann’s resume and that the Rice case was not discussed at any point during the trial. The details surrounding the assessment process for Loehmann remain unclear.

“I was under the impression that there was a thorough background check on him, that he had no problems,” Wilcox told the outlet. “I thought it was odd that someone would move all the way from Cleveland, Ohio for $18 an hour. But I heard he wanted to get away from it all and hunt and fish here.”

Wilcox posted a video to Facebook on Thursday of a recent city council meeting showing a member gesturing “to hire a police officer named Timothy — I still can’t pronounce that name.” He then spelled out “Lochmann” and said the officer would be hired “provided he passes on all physical data and everything accordingly,” the video said.

“Why were we NOT notified of the surname change?” wrote Wilcox.

Neither Hazlett nor a representative of the Tioga Police Department immediately responded to requests for comment early Thursday.

The news was first reported by Garrett Carr, a freelance journalist with the Sun-Gazette.

Loehmann’s hiring comes days after another deadly shooting by Ohio police has shaken the state. Police in Akron released body cameras on Sunday showing officers firing dozens of shots at Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old black man who left his car last week as he fled a traffic stop. Akron Police Chief Stephen Mylett said he didn’t know the exact number of shots fired at Walker, but said the coroner’s report shows more than 60 wounds on Walker’s body. Eight officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid leave pending the results of investigations by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Akron Police Office of Professional Standards and Accountability.

Akron Police Release Video of Cops Shooting Black Man Dozens of Times

More than 1,040 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year, according to data from The Washington Post. Even though half of those people were white, black Americans are being shot at a disproportionate rate. They represent less than 13 percent of the American population, but are killed by the police more than twice as often as whites. Hispanics are also being killed by the police at a disproportionate rate.

Loehmann’s hiring in Tioga — more than 500 miles east of Cleveland and just a few miles from upstate New York — is the latest example of a police officer being rehired after being fired elsewhere. A 2017 Post report found that while the country’s largest police forces have fired at least 1,881 officers over a period of more than a decade for misconduct that has violated public trust, the departments have been forced to fire more than 450 officers. to be employed after occupations required by union contracts.

On November 22, 2014, two Cleveland police officers—Loehmann and Frank Garmback—came to a park in response to a 911 call about a man with a gun. Rice toyed with a shotgun that officials said was indistinguishable from a regular handgun. Although the caller told the dispatcher that this person may have been a child playing with a toy, it was not passed on to officers, who treated the call as an “active gunman” situation, authorities said.

Within seconds of police driving their patrol car onto the grass, Loehmann, a white rookie officer, shot Rice from the passenger seat of the vehicle. Loehmann later told authorities that the 12-year-old black child appeared to be reaching for a gun in his waistband.

After Ohio authorities investigated the case, a grand jury declined to file a criminal charge against Loehmann in December 2015. Loehmann was eventually fired from the department for failing to disclose on his application that he was leaving his previous position in Independence, Ohio, due to “an inability to function emotionally” as an officer. Garmback has been suspended. The City of Cleveland agreed to pay Rice’s relatives $6 million as part of a civil settlement.

The Justice Department announced in late 2020 that it had formally closed its federal investigation into the police shooting of Rice. Announcing the decision to close the case, the Justice Department said it had conducted a “comprehensive investigation of the facts surrounding this tragic event” but that department appeals prosecutors concluded that “the evidence is insufficient to establish beyond reasonable grounds.” doubt that Officer Loehmann has intentionally violated Tamir Rice’s constitutional rights.” The federal investigation also examined whether the officer and his partner had obstructed justice, and concluded that there was nothing to prosecute.

Justice closes investigation into murder of Tamir Rice

Shortly after being discharged from Cleveland, Loehmann was hired as a part-time police officer in Bellaire, Ohio. Loehmann withdrew his application a few days later after officials faced criticism for hiring him.

Wilcox, the mayor of Tioga, told WEWS in Cleveland that Loehmann was one of three candidates considered for the position.

“Everything came back clearly that he had no bad comments on his record at all,” he told the TV station. “That is how it was presented to the rest of the council and to me.”

But when news broke that the officer who shot Rice in 2014 had been hired in Tioga, dozens of residents protested the decision on Wednesday. A protester told the Sun-Gazette that the circumstances in which Loehmann was hired were “just wrong”.

“I think a lot of misinformation was given and a lot of people didn’t know what they were doing,” the man told the newspaper.

Wilcox has vowed not to schedule hours for Loehmann until a solution is found, WEWS said. Chandra told The Post that while he’s thankful that residents and leaders are outraged over the hiring, Loehmann is resurfacing hundreds of miles away in Pennsylvania and “has once again caused tremendous distress to the Rice family.”

“It’s hard to imagine that the residents of Tioga and surrounding communities will tolerate a law enforcement officer who poses such a high risk to them,” Chandra said. “So I hope the officials will do the right thing.”

Samaria Rice said she found out that Loehmann was hired days before she will unveil a memorial to her son at the spot where he was shot. The officer who found work in Pennsylvania, she said, was his way of “challenging me and shamelessly scorning me in my face.”

“Timothy Loehmann just respects me everywhere,” she said, saying the last few years have made her “tired.” “There is no reconciliation. As a human and God-fearing woman, I should probably forgive him, but I will never forgive what he did to my family.”

She added: “Timothy Loehmann is connected to Tamir Rice and that will never change.”

Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.

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