The Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 as he held a pellet gun, setting off national protests, was fired Tuesday, officials said.
At a news conference, officials said that the officer, Timothy Loehmann, would be terminated immediately and that Frank Garmback, an officer who was driving the patrol car, would be suspended for 10 days beginning Wednesday. They also said Officer Garmback would be required to take an additional tactical training course.
The decision came after what Mayor Frank Jackson of Cleveland called an “exhaustive process” of investigation.
“This has been tough on our entire community, and definitely on the Rice family,” said Calvin Williams, the police chief. “When this happened in 2014, I made the comment that this is, of course, a tragedy, but it’s even more tragic that it happened at the hands of a Cleveland police officer.”
While Officer Garmback was suspended for violations related to the shooting, like failing to report his arrival to a radio dispatcher, the administrative charges leveled against Officer Loehmann did not even mention the 2014 episode.
Officer Loehmann was instead fired for lying on his employment application in 2013, a violation that came to light only after officials began investigating the officers after Tamir’s death. Still, the police chief noted that since the shooting, changes had been made in the way officers are trained.
Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, said her family was relieved to hear of the firing but still considered it too little, too late. “Shame on the city of Cleveland for taking so long to render a decision like this,” she said in a phone interview. “Timothy Loehmann should have never been a police officer in the first place.”
She added that Officer Garmback should have been fired rather than suspended, “for pulling up so close to my son to create the danger” at the time of the shooting.
On Nov. 22, 2014, the officers were dispatched after Tamir was reported for playing with a pellet gun near a recreation center. Though the caller specified that the gun was “probably fake,” that information was not communicated to the responding officers. Video released after the episode showed that Officer Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds of the patrol car pulling up beside the boy.
In 2015, a grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against any of the officers involved in the shooting, which inflamed national outrage over this and other prominent killings of young African-Americans by police officers.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Jacey Fortin and Jonah Engel Bromwich