The American public deserves better.
Before Cleveland police department officer Timothy Loehmann tragically shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, he accumulated a record of emotional instability, disregard for training, and ineptitude for the job so severe that he should have never been hired. As you will see below, his previous supervisors in Independence, Ohio, said as much. As many as seven police departments and programs turned him down in the aftermath of his termination from Independence, but Cleveland, which claims they never checked his records, hired him. They should be held accountable for this mistake of fatal proportions.
It's nearly impossible to find a documented case of someone less qualified to have a badge and a gun than officer Timothy Loehmann. It's frightening, when reviewing the evidence, to think that he was ever hired and makes one wonder how many other times police departments have completely ignored human resource files when making hires for those expected to protect and serve us.
In 2012, Timothy Loehmann was hired by the Independence, Ohio police department. Even then, it was a mistake to hire him, but the department quickly and firmly tried to make it right. Below the fold is Timothy Loehmann's entire personnel file from the Independence police department for you to review for yourself. Important highlights have been noted below it, including their statements on his poor performance in gun training, his continued emotional instability, his willingness to lie, and their final recommendation that he be terminated and never employed as an officer again.
—Starting on page 46, we learn that Loehmann had unsuccessfully applied for jobs in multiple police departments between 2010 and 2012, including the New York police department, but wasn't hired by any of them.
—On page 46, we learn that Loehmann, 23 years old at the time, had never held a full-time job in his life and that he was currently working a part-time maintenance job for $8 an hour.
—On page 53 we learn that Loehmann was officially hired by Independence on July 17, 2012.
—The most essential readings in Loehmann's personnel file begins on page 56, where we learn that less than four months into his training with the department, critical failures are being noted with Loehmann by his superiors:
On this date, during a state range qualification course Ptl. Loehmann was distracted and weepy. He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal. Sgt. Tinnirello tried to work through this with Ptl. Loehmann by giving him some time. But, after some talking it was clear to Sgt. Tinnirello that the recruit was just not mentally prepared to be doing firearm training. Sgt. Tinnirello stored the recruit's weapons and I advised Sgt. Tinnirello to continue the training day to see how Ptl. Loehmann progressed.
Sgt. Tinnirello and Ptl. Loehmann then continued out to Painesville to pick up some more of Ptl. Loehmann's gear that had arrived in the store. During this drive, Sgt. Tinnirello continued to speak with Tim about his problems, and Ptl. Loehmann continued with his emotional meltdown to a point where Sgt. Tinnirello could not take him into the store, so they went to get something to eat and he continued to try and calm Ptl. Loehmann. Sgt. Tinnirello describes the recruit as being very downtrodden, melancholy with some light crying. Sgt. Tinnirello later found this emotional perplexity was due to a personal issue with Ptl. Loehmann's on and off again girlfriend whom he was dealing with till 0400 hrs the night before. (Pti. Loehmann was scheduled for 0800 the morning in question.) Some of the comments made by Ptl. Loehmann during this discourse were to the effect of,"I should have gone to NY," "maybe I should quit," "I have no friends," "I only hang out with 73 yr old priests," "I have cried every day for 4 months about this girl."
Sgt. Tinnirello also found from Ptl. Loehmann that these events had happened once before about three months ago while in the Police Academy but the Capt. ofthe Academy was able to calm him. (Sgt. Tinnirello later verified that with Capt. Bamhard of the Cleveland Heights Police Academy. It was reported to us as an isolated incident, and after counseling by Capt. Barnhard, Ptl. Loehmann did finish the Academy satisfactorily.)
At this point when Sgt. Tinnirello and Ptl. Loehmann reported back to IPD, and these events were reported to me,I decided to send Ptl. Loehmann home for the day, and made sure his well-being was protected by contacting his family.
—On page 57, the complaints against Loehmann begin to pile up. Three separate incidents are reported and questions begin to be asked regarding whether or not he could ever be a competent police officer:
There were three other incidents reported to me by Sgt. Tinnirello concerning Ptl. Loehmann. 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.
When Ptl. Loehmann was issued his firearm he was told that it needed to be secured
when he was not working. If the weapon was not with him, then it needed to be secured
in his locker or the arsenal. Ptl. Loehmann was given a locker assignment, and he was
later asked by Sgt. Tinnirello whether he had a lock for his locker. Ptl. Loehmann stated,
'yes". The next day when Sgt. Tinnirello was in the locker room he noticed that Ptl.
Loehmann's locker did not have a lock on it. So he asked Tim if he had a secured locker.
Ptl. Loehmann then told Sgt. Tinnirello that he had a lock, like he was asked; he just
didn't have time to put it on the locker because it was at home. So, Ptl. Loehmann had
left his firearm in his locker overnight, unsecured, after being told that was not
There was another incident where Sgt. Tinnirello told Ptl. Loehmann to sit in Dispatch
for part of his orientation and he would come and get him later. A little while later, Sgt.
Tinnirello came into the Patrol Room and saw Tim there. He asked Tim why he was
upstairs and he told Sgt. Tinnirello that the Dispatchers said he was done and to come
upstairs. Later in the day while driving around the City, Ptl. Loehmann confesses to Sgt.
Tinnirello that he had come upstairs from Dispatch on his own,"that the Dispatchers
never told him to come upstairs."
When Ptl. Loehmann was issued his bulletproof vest he was told by Sgt. Tinnirello to wear it in order to get used to it. Approximately a 1/2 hour later, when checking in with Tim, back down in Dispatch he found Ptl. Loehmann with no vest on. When he was questioned as to why it was off, Ptl. Loehmann stated, "that he was too warm, so he took it off."
—On page 58, his supervising officers note that they are disturbed by the lack of commitment to the police department being expressed by Loehmann during their interview of him. His superiors note:
That theme was repeated many times by Ptl. Loehmann, even him stating,"I will work here as long as possible; and do my best, but if I find I don't like it then I will go do something else." I found this lack of commitment to us, disturbing. It just appears that he is not mature enough in his accepting of responsibility or his understanding in the severity of his loss of control on the range.
—On page 59, the supervising officers listed their grave concerns about the deficiencies demonstrated by Loehmann:
These are the deficiencies as noted:
Ptl. Loehmann's inability to perform basic functions as instructed, and his inability to
emotionally function because of a personal situation at home with an on and off again
girlfriend leads one to believe that he would not be able to substantially cope, or make
good decisions, during or resulting from any other stressful situation. This ongoing
personal relationship should not have whole-fully consumed him that he would not be
able to follow simple direction, especially after being given a reasonable amount of time
to collect himself.
It appears from the pattern developing within our short time frame with Ptl. Loehmann
that he often feels that when told to do something, that those instructions are optional,
and that he can manipulate them if he so feels it can better serve him. I do not say he is
doing this for some benefit, or in an insubordinate way, but he just appears to have the
mind set that if he thinks he knows better, than that is the course he follows.
—Then, finally, on page 59, his supervising officer makes his final recommendation that will ultimately lead to the decision to terminate his employment with the department:
Due to this dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to
manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment.
Unfortunately in law enforcement there are times when instructions need be followed to
the letter, and I am under the impression Ptl. Loehmann, under certain circumstances,
will not react in the way instructed.
Ptl. Loehmann's lack of commitment for his future here at Independence is disconcerting.
Although saying he is happy to be here, he seems to be considering other options.
For these reasons, I am recommending he be released from the employment of the City of Independence. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.
—On page 60 the supervisors of the Independence police department meet with Loehmann on December 3, 2012, to let him know his employment is being terminated. He offers his resignation there on the spot for "personal reasons."
—On pages 61-62, the final two pages of his personnel file, a report from his supervising officer, Sergeant Tinnirello, was attached. It details a disturbing incident on the gun range just one week prior to their final decision to fire him. This incident alone was enough for Loehmann to never be hired by another police department again:
On November 28, 2012 probationary Officer Tim Loehmann came to work at 0600 hrs. He appeared to be sleepy and upset. In the past days with Ptl. Loehmann he had shared with me that he was having trouble with his girlfriend. Ptl. Loehmann and I went down to IPD range to qualify him on the State of Ohio gun qualifications. During the
qualification Ptl. Loehmann was distracted and was not following simple instructions.
PtI. Loehmann went to the back of the range to reload his magazines and could
not return to the shooting line. He was emotionally upset and appeared to be crying. I
asked several times if he was ok and Ptl. Loehmann stated "I need a minute." After
several attempts to get Ptl. Loehmann to return, I decided that he was not fit to return and had him sit down. He expressed to me again that the situation with his girlfriend was
upsetting him and he was still emotionally upset and crying. Concerned for his well
being I took PtI. Loehmann's gun belt and gun from him and secured it in a safe location.
I gave him a few minutes to pull himself together, and I notified Chief Nicastro and
Deputy Chief Polak of the situation. We decided to stop firearms training and to go out
to Atwells Police Supply to pick up Ptl. Loehmami's Bullet Proof Vest.
During the forty minute drive out to Atwells, Ptl. Loehmann remained emotionally upset. He informed me that during his time at the Cleveland Hts. Police Academy he had a similar situation happen and Captain G. Barnard had to counsel him.
He stated his Girlfriend broke up with him for four months and he cried every morning
for four months. When we arrived at Atwells Police Supply Ptl. Loehmann was still
upset and I felt he needed more time to get his emotions under control. I took him out for breakfast and talked with him. During our time at breakfast Ptl. Loehmann expressed
that he was unclear on where his future was headed. I explained to Ptl. Loehmann that he
could not be released from the FTO program until IPD knew he could handle the job. Ptl.
Loehmann stated "that just makes me want to quit." As we talked about being
emotionally ready for duty and the events of the morning Ptl. Loehmann became agitated.
He stated to me as if he was thinking out loud "what I want is for you to shut up." Ptl.
Loehmann wasn't even looking at me when he made the statement and seemed to be
distracted as if the statement just came out under stress.
We finished breakfast and went to Atwells Police Supply and returned to the
station without further incident. I directed Ptl. Loehmann to dispatch for training and I
met with Deputy Chief Polak. We decided to send Ptl. Loehmann home for the day and
meet with him on November 29, 2012 at 0830. When I met with Ptl. Loehmann and
informed him that he was going home.
He stated he didn't want to go home but understood why we were sending him home. I noticed again he was becoming emotionally upset and asked him if he need Counseling, he stated no. I asked him if he was thinking about hurting himself and he stated no. I repeated that we would do whatever we could to help him if he needed counseling but he again stated he was good.
As he was leaving the department I noticed he was even more upset. Concerned for Ptl. Loehmann I attempted to contact his father or his mother. I was able to reach Marie Loehmann at her work. I informed her of the situation and she stated she knew there was a problem but Ptl. Loehmann did not share details with her. She informed me that as Ptl. Loehmann was going through the Cleveland Hts. Police Academy his study papers would be soaked in tears nightly for three months because of the problems with his girlfriend.
I asked her to contact him and see if there was anything we could do to help him. She asked if her husband could contact me and I gave her my personal cell phone number. I expressed to her that we were concerned about Tim and that we would do whatever it took to get him the help he needed.
After getting off the phone with Mrs. Loehmann I called the Cleveland Hts. Police Academy and talked with Captain G. Barnard. He informed me that during one of
Ptl. Loehmann's classes he noticed he was falling asleep. He stated he counseled Ptl.
Loehmann once about sleeping in class. During their talk Ptl. Loehmann told Captain
Barnard that the reason he was falling asleep was because of the situation with his
girlfriend. Captain G. Barnard stated Ptl. Loehmann corrected his behavior and he did
not have another problem with him the rest of the Academy. He also stated he did not
notice any unusual behavior with Ptl. Loehmann and he seemed to get along with others
in his class.
I started Ptl. Loehmann introduction to the FTO program on November 19, 2012.
We spent approximately 10-12 hrs days together. During that time period there are
several events that should be noted. I issued Ptl. Loehmann a locker and instructed him to put a lock on it ASAP. IPD officers keep their firearms in their lockers, and when I
issued Ptl. Loehmann his firearm I asked him if he had a lock on his locker. He indicated
that he did, and I offered advice about keeping his duty gun at work. On November 28,
2012 when I went to put Ptl. Loehmanrt's gun belt above his locker I noticed there was no lock. When questioned about it, he stated he did not state he had a lock on the locker but had a lock at home. I asked him if he left his firearm unsecured in his locker and he
stated yes. Then I asked him why he didn't bring a lock in, he stated because he was
upset about his girlfriend.
I also instructed Ptl. Loehmann to sit a dispatch on November 26,2012 to learn
how IPD Dispatch Center works. During that time he was called into the IPD report
room for an unrelated topic. I instructed him to return to dispatch and I would come get
him later. A short time later, I returned to the IPD report room and Ptl. Loehmann was
there. I asked why he wasn't in dispatch, he stated the Dispatchers informed him he was
done. I instructed him to return to Dispatch and to follow the instructions given him.
Later that day Ptl. Loehmann informed me that the Dispatchers did not tell him he was
done and that he had made it up.
A five-month tenure at a police department could hardly be worse than the five months Timothy Loehmann spent with the Independence police department. His supervising officers were long-suffering and attempted to help him through his emotional instability and incompetence, but it was just too much to overcome. More than any other statement in the 62-page report, though, was the final statement offered by his supervising officer, which should have precluded Loehmann from being hired in Cleveland or anywhere else. It states, "I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies."
It's this statement, and the accumulation of complaints about Loehmann's short tenure with the Independence police department that makes it so disturbing that the Cleveland police department now admits that when they hired him in March 2014 that didn't take even a cursory glance at his record or the harsh recommendations from his supervising officers.
We now learn, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, that Loehmann, in the months after he left Independence, applied for with police departments in Akron, Euclid, and Parma Heights, Ohio, and was turned down.
Then, in September 2013, Loehmann failed the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department's written entrance exam, with a failing score of 46 out of 100. Note: 70 is the minimum score allowable for entrance.
Considering all of this, it is a tragic and fatal flaw in our system of government if such a person, in spite of the enormous evidence that he is not fit to be an officer of the law, was ever afforded the opportunity again. The position comes with too much power and the potential to inflict far too much harm for someone like Loehmann to ever hold it. Ultimately, his poor judgment and incompetence not only makes all officers look bad, but it cost a 12-year-old boy his life.
Below, Rachel Maddow shares just how high the odds were against Tamir Rice the day these two officers pulled up: