By MARK GILLISPIE Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — An arbitrator correctly decided that the White Cleveland police officer who shot and killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black child, should have been fired by the city for omissions on his city job application, a judge in Cleveland ruled.
Cuyahoga County Judge Joseph Russo upheld the May 2017 firing of Timothy Loehmann in a ruling posted Wednesday. Loehmann was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the death of Tamir in November 2014. He was killed as he played with a pellet gun outside a Cleveland recreation center.
Loehmann, a rookie, shot Tamir within seconds of a cruiser skidding to a stop just a few feet away. The shooting was recorded in a grainy surveillance video that drew international attention and led to Tamir’s becoming a symbol for the Black Lives Matter protest movement over police treatment of Blacks and minorities.
In a Monday, Dec. 1, 2014 file photo, Tomiko Shine holds up a picture of Tamir Rice during a protest in Washington, D.C. An arbitrator correctly decided that the white Cleveland police officer who shot and killed Tamir Rice should have been fired by the city for lying his on job application, a county judge in Cleveland ruled. Cuyahoga County Judge Joseph Russo upheld the 2017 firing of Timothy Loehmann in a ruling Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. Loehmann was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the death of Tamir in November 2014 as he played with a pellet gun outside a Cleveland recreation center. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Loehmann said after the shooting that he feared for his life.
The city said it fired Loehmann in May 2017 for failing to disclose on his job application with Cleveland that he had previously been forced out by a suburban Cleveland police department. The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association appealed, and an arbitrator ruled in December 2018 that the city had “demonstrated just cause” for the dismissal.
CPPA President Jeff Follmer on Friday called the decision disappointing.
“We think it’s clear cut he didn’t lie on his application and this is another political decision,” Follmer said.
The CPPA and Loehmann will consider whether to appeal the judge’s decision, union attorney Henry Hilow said.
Cleveland issued a statement Friday saying it was pleased with the decision.
“The city has consistently maintained throughout the process that Loehmann’s termination was justified,” the statement said.
Loehmann was offered a part-time position with a police department in the southeast Ohio village of Bellaire in October 2018, but withdrew his application days later after Tamir’s mother, Samaria, and others criticized the hiring.