Two days after Timothy Loehmann, the former Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, was sworn in as a rural community police officer in Pennsylvania, he quit the post office, Tioga Borough announced Thursday.
It came after a public outcry in response to the Williamsport Sun Gazette article revealing his hiring.
David Wilcox, the mayor of Tioga, appeared at a community protest against the hiring of Mr. Loehmann on Wednesday, saying he had no knowledge of Mr. Loehmann’s past. He stood on top of a van and told residents he had ‘no knowledge of the candidate we just hired for our police department,’ according to a video published by The Wellsboro Gazette.
“I was told there was a thorough background check, numerous phone calls and there were no negative marks on his record and he would be a great fit for this city,” said said Mr Wilcox, pointing out that it was the borough council. responsibility for reviewing applications and hiring and firing staff.
But Henry Hilow, a lawyer for Mr Loehmann, called Mr Wilcox’s statement dishonest. He said the mayor was aware of Mr. Loehmann’s story. According to Mr. Hilow, Mr. Loehmann decided to resign because he did not want to be part of the “infighting” between the Tioga Borough Council and its mayor.
“It was not a healthy situation for him,” Mr. Hilow said, adding that Mr. Loehmann had already applied for many jobs, including outside of law enforcement.
Mr. Loehmann was sworn in as the borough’s sole police officer on Tuesday, but had not yet started work, his lawyer said.
“The community has spoken. They’ve expressed their feelings, and we’ve listened to them and we’re going to respond and that will be it,” Borough Council Chairman Steve Hazlett said. told the Associated Press. “We thank the community for stepping forward and making their voices heard.”
Borough council members did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The New York Times on Thursday. Tioga, a small borough spanning half a square mile along the Tioga River, has a population of just under 700 people. It lies along Pennsylvania’s northern border with New York.
Subodh Chandra, a lawyer for Tamir Rice’s family, said he planned to seek further information about how Mr Loehmann was almost able to find a job in Tioga.
“While it is good that Loehmann does not inflict a badge and a gun on the citizens of Tioga, the officials of this town must be held accountable for their manifestly and appallingly poor judgment,” Mr. Chandra said. “This game of Whac-a-Mole with Loehmann resurfacing as a cop elsewhere has to end.”
In November 2014, Mr. Loehmann, who is white, shot and killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black man who was holding a pellet gun outside a recreation center in Cleveland. Video of the incident shows Mr Loehmann firing within two seconds of his patrol car pulling up next to the child. Mr Loehmann said later that he had seen Tamir reach for a gun-like object in his belt.
In 2015, a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Mr. Loehmann, further fueling national outrage over Mr. Rice’s death and other police killings of black people.
A year later, the city of Cleveland settled with Tamir’s family for $6 million, extinguishing the possibility of a civil rights lawsuit. Officials said the settlement amount was the highest in the city in a police-related lawsuit.
The Cleveland Police Department fired Mr. Loehmann in 2017 for lying on his application for a job with the police force, a discovery the department said it made after officials began investigating Mr. Loehmann during the shooting. He had not disclosed why he resigned from a previous position with a police department in Independence, Ohio. Supervisors there had recommended his dismissal, specifying “an inability to function emotionally”, in addition to citing examples of lying and insubordination.
Mr. Loehmann has made at least one other attempt to work as a police officer in recent years. In October 2018, he was hired by a small town Ohio police department for a part-time position. The Bellaire Police Department’s decision to hire Mr. Loehmann sparked protests and was condemned by Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice. Mr. Loehmann resigned a few days after being hired.
Ms. Rice said that Mr. Loehmann should accept that his career in law enforcement is over. She described him as “a rotten apple for the band”.
“He doesn’t deserve a second chance,” Ms. Rice said. “He didn’t give my son a second chance.”