Cleveland police officer who shot Tamir Rice was unfit for duty years ago, records show


Updated Dec. 4, 2014 at 1:45 p.m. EST | The Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice last week was previously “distracted” and “weepy” during his firearms qualification training at a suburban Ohio police department, new internal documents revealed Wednesday.

During his brief tenure at the Independence, Ohio Police Department, Deputy Chief Jim Polak said Tim Loehmann’s handgun performance was poor.

“He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal,” Polak said in a letter to human resources, dated November 29, 2012, found in Loehmann’s personnel file.

Polak added that he did not believe Loehmann was mature enough to work at IPD, due to a “dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress.”

Polak recommended that the department terminate Loehmann in December 2012. Shortly after, Loehmann resigned, citing personal reasons.

Loehmann’s father, Fred Loehmann, told that his son left Independence because “he soon grew tired of the slow pace of suburban policing.”

Loehmann was hired by the Cleveland Police Department in March 2014. In the documents, it’s not immediately clear whether Cleveland police officials saw Loehmann’s Independence personnel file, however, the Cleveland Police Department told Buzzfeed on Wednesday that it did not review Loehmann’s Independence Police Department personnel file before he was hired.

On Nov. 23, Loehmann, 26, and partner Frank Garmack, responded to a 911 report that someone was brandishing a “probably fake” gun at people at a playground. A surveillance video released by the Cleveland police showed the two police officers arriving at the scene, within feet of Rice. In the video, Loehmann appeared to shoot Rice within seconds of opening his police car door.

No audio was on the tape, but both police officers said they ordered Rice to raise his hands three times before Loehmann shot him. The boy was carrying a pellet gun.

On Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder said that a federal investigation into the Cleveland Police Department’s practices revealed a systematic use of excessive force.

An accompanying 58-page report points to insufficient training and lack of accountability as contributors to the problem. The Justice Department reviewed nearly 600 use-of-force incidents, beginning in March 2013.

“The trust between the Cleveland Division of Police and many of the communities it serves is broken,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

The report follows high-profile shootings in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri, where white officers have killed unarmed blacks.

You can read the Loehmann’s personnel file below: