A police officer who shot a 12-year-old dead in a Cleveland park late last month had been judged unfit for police service two years earlier by a small suburban force where he worked for six months, according to records released on Wednesday.
Officer Timothy Loehmann, who killed Tamir Rice on 22 November, was specifically faulted for breaking down emotionally while handling a live gun. During a training episode at a firing range, Loehmann was reported to be “distracted and weepy” and incommunicative. “His handgun performance was dismal,” deputy chief Jim Polak of the Independence, Ohio, police department wrote in an internal memo.
The memo concludes with a recommendation that Loehmann be “released from the employment of the City of Independence”. Less than a week later, on 3 December 2012, Loehmann resigned.
In March of this year, Loehmann was hired by the Cleveland police department. It is unclear whether the department had seen the Independence memo at the time of Loehmann’s hiring.
“I have not received any instruction about it, and I have not received the file” from Independence, said Sgt Ali Pillow, a Cleveland police spokesman. He said the Cleveland department had not commented on whether it had seen the memo from Independence before Loehmann was hired.