-- The Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 was terminated this morning after rule violations, the Cleveland Police Department announced today.
Officer Timothy Loehmann, who fatally shot Rice three years ago, was fired for inaccurate details on his job application and other administrative policy violations, not for the Rice shooting.
At a news conference this morning, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said that in 2015 the police department began looking through employment history during the hiring process, which it did not do when it hired Loehmann.
"Hopefully we won't have any more incidents like this," Williams said.
Disciplinary actions were also announced today against Officer Frank Garmback, who was with Loehmann at the scene of the Rice shooting. Garmback has been suspended for 10 days for a reason related to the shooting and must attend additional training, police said. His suspension begins tomorrow.
Loehmann shot and killed Rice outside the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2014. Officers believed Rice was carrying a weapon, but it turned out to be a toy gun. A grand jury declined to indict Loehmann or Garmback.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said at the time that the law gives the benefit of the doubt to officers who must make "split-second" decisions when they believe their lives are in danger. Loehmann "had reason to fear for his life," McGinty said, citing video he said was "indisputable" when it showed Rice reaching for what the officers thought was a gun as their car approached and Loehmann exited.
Tamir Rice's mother, Samira Rice, said today she is relieved that Loehmann was fired but believes Garmback should also have been terminated.
In a statement released by family attorneys, she said Loehmann "should never have been a police officer in the first place — but he should have been fired for shooting my son in less than one second, not just for lying on his application."
"As we continue to grieve for Tamir, I hope this is a call for all of us to build stronger communities together," Samira Rice said.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson offered his condolences to the Rice family and said, "We've gone through an exhaustive process" in reviewing the officers' actions.
The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association said in a statement that the decisions to discipline Garmback and terminate Loehmann were "imposed merely to appease segments of this community who have demanded their heads."
"The employment application of no other employee of the city of Cleveland has ever been scrutinized as carefully as Officer Loehmann's, and even that scrutiny was unable to find any alleged errors or mistakes that are not easily justifiable," the association said.
"Four independent law enforcement agencies previously cleared them of any criminal wrongdoing, as well as the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office and grand jury," the statement said. "There is simply no factual basis on which an unbiased decision-maker could conclude that either officer should be administratively disciplined."
The association said the city's Critical Incident Review Committee "unanimously found that neither officer had violated any city rules, policies or training. Indeed, the committee found that each officer acted in accordance with their training and experience."