The former Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 withdrew from the police force of a small Pennsylvania town on Thursday amid community opposition and media scrutiny over his hiring.
Timothy Loehmann was sworn in this week as the sole police officer in Tioga — a community of about 600 people in rural north-central Pennsylvania, 300 miles (483 kilometers) from Cleveland — but left the post without working a single shift, according to City Council Chairman Steve Hazlett.
“The council has spoken. They’ve expressed their feelings, and we’ve listened to them and we’re going to respond to them and that’s going to be that,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “We thank the community for stepping forward and making it heard of their voice.”
Rice, who was Black, was playing with a shotgun outside a Cleveland recreation center on Nov. 22, 2014, when he was shot and killed by Loehmann, seconds after Loehmann and his partner arrived. The officers told investigators that Loehmann had yelled at Tamir three times to raise his hand.
The shooting sparked community protests over the police’s treatment of black people, especially after a grand jury decided not to charge the white officer or his partner.
Cleveland settled a lawsuit over Tamir’s death for $6 million, and the city eventually fired Loehmann for lying about his application to become a police officer.
Loehmann has since made several attempts to find work with the police. He landed a part-time job with a police department in the southeastern Ohio village of Bellaire in October 2018, but withdrew his application days later after Tamir’s mother, Samaria, and others criticized the hiring.
The circumstances of Loehmann’s hiring in Tioga remained a mystery on Thursday.
Hazlett declined to say whether Loehmann told the council about the Tamir Rice case when he applied, or whether the council knew about his background when he voted to hire him. “The process is private and personal. We don’t share it. It won’t leave its folder,’ he said.
Mayor David Wilcox told cleveland.com he “had the impression that a thorough background check had been done on him, that he had no problems.” Wilcox, who said he was not involved in the hiring process, did not respond to a message from the AP.
the municipality said on her website On Thursday, Loehmann “officially signed his application”. Hazlett said the council will meet next week to take action on Loehmann’s application and consider next steps.
Word he was hired when Tioga’s new police officer marched protesters into the borough on Wednesday night and condemned Tamir’s family.
“While it’s all well and good that Loehmann won’t cause a reign of terror with a badge and gun on Tioga Borough residents and visitors, city officials should be held accountable for their demonstrably horribly poor judgment and incompetence,” Subodh Chandra, one of the leaders attorneys representing the family in their civil suit said in a statement Thursday.
“This mob game with Loehmann showing up shamelessly and repeatedly as an agent elsewhere must end,” he said.
Messages were left on Loehmann’s phone numbers.
Hazlett said the council had not asked Loehmann to step aside, and he declined to speculate on whether the council would have done so had Loehmann not taken the first step.
He said Tioga still hopes to hire a police officer.