The rookie Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice last month had been deemed unfit for duty at a previous police department and was in the process of being fired when he resigned from his post, according to records released Wednesday.
Cleveland police have said Officer Timothy Loehmann, 26, shot Tamir as the boy held a toy gun at a recreation center on Nov. 22. Video released last week of the incident shows Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, driving up within feet of Rice, then Loehmann shooting him at close-range seconds later.
Both officers were placed on paid administrative leave, and an investigation into the shooting is ongoing.
Last week, police identified Loehmann as having fired the fatal shot. According to the Associated Press, Loehmann has been a Cleveland police officer since March. Before that, he spent five months in 2012 with the police department in the Ohio suburb of Independence, about 13 miles south of Cleveland. Four of those five months were spent in the police academy, the AP reports.
According to Loehmann’s personnel records, released by the city of Independence, police officials were in the process of firing him when he resigned in December 2012. Supervisors described an emotionally unstable recruit with a “lack of maturity” and “inability to perform basic functions as instructed” during a weapons training exercise.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, the Cleveland Police Department said that it had not reviewed Loehmann’s Independence personnel file during his background check. According to Cleveland police spokesman Ali Pillow, detectives interviewed the human resources director for the city of Independence, who told them there were no disciplinary actions or incidents in Loehmann’s file. The manager told detectives Loehmann left because he resigned for personal reasons, Pillow said.
Current policy does not require the department to review previous employers’ personnel files, the department said, but police officials say they are now amending those policies to request such files.
According to a memo sent by Deputy Chief Jim Polak of the Independence Police Department to the city’s human resources manager, Loehmann was visibly “distracted and weepy” during a gun range training course, and could not follow simple directions or communicate clearly.
“His handgun performance was dismal,” read the memo, which called the incident a “dangerous loss of composure.” The training officer took Loehmann’s weapons away and drove with him to pick up some of his other gear, but the officer continued to have an “emotional meltdown,” crying at times as he described relationship problems with his girlfriend to his training sergeant.
In two other incidents, the documents say, Loehmann failed to follow instructions, at one point leaving his gun in an unlocked locker overnight.
“Individually, these events would not be considered major situations, but when taken together they show a pattern of a lack of maturity, indiscretion and not following instructions,” the memo reads. “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies."
The department recommended that Loehmann be fired. He decided to resign instead, the memo says.
In a letter dated Dec. 5, 2012, Loehmann writes he is resigning for personal reasons.
In his application for the Independence Police Department, Loehmann indicated that he’d graduated from Cleveland State University in 2011 with a degree in criminology and sociology. He claimed to own an M72 rifle and a Glock handgun. He wanted to become a police officer, he wrote because “the community of Independence has a superb police department” and that “the position of patrolman is a stable job.” He had never been a police officer before, he said.
In an entrance interview during a lie detector test taken for the job in Independence, Loehmann told an investigator that he had not had a full-time job in the last five years, and that he had applied to multiple police departments in 2010.
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