Cleveland police officer who shot 12-year-old boy is fired

Tamir Rice (above) was shot and killed by Cleveland police officer Tim Loehman.
Tamir Rice (above) was shot and killed by Cleveland police officer Tim Loehman.PHOTO: NYTIMES
CCTV showed Tamir Rice playing in a park in November 2014 when police officers arrived.
CCTV showed Tamir Rice playing in a park in November 2014 when police officers arrived.SCREENSHOT: YOUTUBE
Mother Samaria Rice, right, with daughter Tajai at Cudell Commons, where 12-year-old Tamir was killed.
Mother Samaria Rice, right, with daughter Tajai at Cudell Commons, where 12-year-old Tamir was killed.PHOTO: NYTIMES

CHICAGO (AFP) - Cleveland police on Tuesday (May 30) fired the officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy two years ago after mistaking the boy's toy gun for a real one.

Tamir Rice was playing in a park with a pellet gun in November 2014, when officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback drove up in a patrol car, responding to an emergency call.

In surveillance video, Loehmann is seen shooting Rice twice within seconds of his arrival, after the boy appears to reach for the replica firearm in his waistband. The officers were not told that the gun the child was wielding was suspected to be a replica.

Cleveland city officials on Tuesday moved to discipline the officers. Loehmann was fired and Garmback, who drove the police car, was suspended for 10 days.

City officials said they had found no evidence that either officer violated police procedures. Instead, the two were disciplined for other violations that surfaced during the two-year investigation.

In Loehmann's case, he was fired for rule violations during his job application process, "specifically, answers he had provided on his personal history statement," Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams said.

Loehmann was a new hire in his six-month probationary period when he fatally shot the boy.

Records made public by another police department where Loehmann worked prior to joining the Cleveland force, showed that supervisors there had wanted to fire him for emotional instability.

A subsequent criminal investigation by local prosecutors closed a year and a half ago, without bringing charges against the two officers.

At the time, Cuyahoga county prosecutor Timothy McGinty described the tragedy as a "perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications."

"We have learned a lot," since the Rice shooting, Chief Williams said Tuesday, pointing to new policies and training in de-escalation tactics.

"Our use of deadly force has gone dramatically down," he said.