Appeals Court Decision Shows The Cleveland PD Cares More About Being Lied To Than About Officers Killing Children

from the damned-by-its-own-legal-victory dept

In 2014, Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann exited his cop car and — within seconds — killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun in a city park.

Say what you will about Airsoft guns and their ability to mimic real guns, but Tamir Rice was never given a chance to drop his “gun,” much less comply with orders that were punctuated by Officer Loehmann’s gunshots. There were multiple failures en route to this tragedy, but even the dispatcher’s failure to pass on the caller’s suggestion that the “gun” was most likely a toy doesn’t excuse the officer’s actions. There was a chance to turn this into something that wouldn’t result in death. But that course of action was never considered. Instead, in less than three seconds, Rice was shot and killed by an officer who never should have been a police officer.

That’s not just me saying that. That’s the Cleveland Police Department saying that. The PD very belatedly acknowledged its error in hiring Timothy Loehmann by firing him months later. But it was too late to undo the damage, the least of which was yet another PR black eye for the ultra-violent PD. Records from Loehmann’s previous employer — the Independence (OH) Police Department — showed the officer was failing to deal with a number of personal issues that affected his daily performance. When he applied to become a Cleveland police officer, Loehmann omitted the fact that he had quit his job as an Independence officer rather than be fired.

A cop who should have never been a cop made a split-second decision to kill a 12-year-old black child. But that’s not why Loehmann was fired. Killing 12-year-olds is acceptable, as long as internal investigations clear you. No, the unforgivable crime was Loehmann lying about his previous law enforcement experience. That’s what bothered the Cleveland PD enough to fire him.

More than a half-decade later, this is the legacy the Cleveland PD has managed to secure, thanks to an Ohio Appeals Court decision [PDF]. Loehmann’s firing was justified, but not because he spent less than two seconds dealing with a possibly non-threatening situation before depriving a Cleveland resident of his life. (via Courthouse News Service)

The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association decided to dispute the firing of Loehmann. The Appeals Court disagrees, saying the city and the PD were correct to do so, even though it appears the officer was fired for the lesser of two evils.

Accordingly, we must follow well-established Ohio law and find that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the CPPA’s application to vacate the arbitration award. We therefore are unable to reach the merits of the CPPA’s appeal and overrule its assignment of error. Judgment affirmed.

That’s how Loehmann’s career ends in Cleveland: not with a bang but with a procedural whimper. The dismissal survives because the police union screwed up its appeal. Officer Loehmann’s failed law enforcement career is shrugged into the record books with a procedural asterisk rather than a strong condemnation of his killing of a 12-year-old.

That’s the biggest insult of all to taxpayers. The Cleveland PD found his killing of a 12-year-old boy acceptable. But it couldn’t stomach being lied to. And, thanks to being tied up by police union contracts and arbitration agreements, the city had to jettison this trigger-happy cop over some resume embellishment rather than, you know, shedding the blood of innocents.

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Comments on “Appeals Court Decision Shows The Cleveland PD Cares More About Being Lied To Than About Officers Killing Children”

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43 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
K`Tetch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And examples aren’t exactly hard to find
See Sgt. Javier Esqueda for instance, who committed contempt of cop by releasing a video showing another officer killing a suspect who was handcuffed in the car, a video the department told the court in sworn filings didn’t exist. Sure, Lt. Jeremy Harrison, Police Sgt. Doug May and two other officers, Jose Tellez and Andrew McCue may have killed a guy in custody, and then Police Chief Al Roechner covered it up, but That’s just murder and corruption, petty-ante shit compared to Esquada’s Contempt of Cop. Which is why he’s the only one that’s been fired, and the one one that’s been charged with a crime.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Ease of proof

This is the same thing that leads to "lying to federal agents" being such a popular charge. Proving he failed to disclose his prior background is easy. Cite the law/rule that says he was supposed to disclose. Cite the conspicuous lack of disclosure on the application. Cite independent sources showing the material he should have disclosed. Done.

By comparison, if you want to get him on the deadly force charge, you have to get into an analysis of whether the force was justified "under the circumstances." Historically, police get tremendous deference whenever "under the circumstances" comes up, so a proceeding that doesn’t let the terminated officer even bring up that argument is much easier to conclude, and much harder for the terminated officer to overturn. That makes it appealing to the authorities who want to be rid of him as quickly and easily as possible.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Consistent, if horrifying

Sadly and disturbingly while I am disgusted and horrified I can’t find it in myself to be surprised that a police department in the US would care more about the fact that someone lied to them than that that person murdered a kid, as that’s entirely consistent with the view that so many cops and those employing them seem to display, that only cops matter and the rights and lives of anyone else is worth nothing more than a footnote at best.

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Jojo (profile) says:

...

Jesus. Shit like this is what makes all good people weep. This blatant display of corruption, hypocrisy, and outright injustuce shows us why police reform is vital more than ever. And yes, we are all aware that not all police officers are like this. But it’s the draconian base that enables shitty behavior like this, that needs to be overhauled so that people like this are held accountable.

Police corruption and brutality isn’t new here. But to cover up the murder (I’m not calling it manslaughter, let’s call it for what it is) of a 12 year old child, a child murder committed by one of your police staff… just… we’re beyond calling this corrupt: this is downright evil.

My only wish is that this isn’t over and I feel nothing but sorrow for the Rice family.

Anonymous Coward says:

As a side point: If the officer’s application omission wasn’t found, the blame would have likely been shifted in the official narrative towards the toy itself. Which leads to another problem…

Toy manufactures already account for that exact scenario. How? The bright usually orange piece attached to the end of the barrel. Those don’t exactly come off easily. So if you’re able to see the object in the kid’s hand at all, You’re gonna see that tip.

Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Toy manufactures already account for that exact scenario. How? The bright usually orange piece attached to the end of the barrel. Those don’t exactly come off easily. So if you’re able to see the object in the kid’s hand at all, You’re gonna see that tip.

The tip was removed prior to the incident, allegedly by Tamir’s friend, to whom the replica gun belonged. That was the problem in this case, and why prosecutors have so far been unable to bring charges against the officers involved: when you approach the subject and he begins pulling something that looks identical to a real weapon out of his waistband, you have only moments to make a decision and respond.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Bollocks.

If you think someone has a gun you know what you don’t do(unless you want to gun someone down)? Park near them and open fire as soon as you open your door. If the killer only had ‘moments to make a decision and respond’ it was because he chose to put himself in that position.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you think someone has a gun you know what you don’t do(unless you want to gun someone down)? Park near them and open fire as soon as you open your door.

I’m fine with the police driving wherever they want. Here’s some much more important things that I think you probably shouldn’t do:

1.) Remove the orange tip off a replica weapon, and then get all self-righteous when others cannot determine that it wasn’t a real weapon.

2.) Don’t practice mugging others at the local park. Don’t approach passersby while brandishing a realistic weapon and issue threats. Don’t expect that you can laugh it off and explain that it’s not real to make things better. If you do, you should realize that a lot of panicked folks are going to call the police, and the police are going to roll up on you in red alert mode in a few minutes.

3.) When the cops roll up on you, at any distance, don’t reach into your waistband and begin producing a realistic looking weapon.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Don’t practice mugging others at the local park.

When the cops roll up on you, at any distance, don’t reach into your waistband and begin producing a realistic looking weapon.

Is there any evidence that Tamir Rice did either of these things, or are you saying that only because Tamir Rice was a Black kid and you need to “back the blue” by doing their racist victim-blaming “smear the dead Black person because it ain’t like they can fight back” bullshit?

Yes or no, Koby: Do you truly, sincerely, 100% believe Tamir Rice deserved to die?

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

From the sequence of events we know, Rice was playing with a toy that had been modified by someone else. Someone got concerned by that and decided to call 911, while stating clearly that it was a teenager playing with a toy. That information was not relayed to the officers, who opened fire as soon as they say a black kid with a potential weapon, giving almost zero time to react to what the officers were saying. The guilt on one side was so obvious that the department settled for $6 million rather than go to court.

Koby loves to hit and run with specious argument here, and seems to get his information from the same alt-right cesspools he whines about getting his friends banned from polite society, but my guess is he does believe he deserved to die. Then wonders why his SS insignia isn’t a good look in the places he gets told otherwise.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"Remove the orange tip off a replica weapon"

By your own admission, he didn’t do that.

"then get all self-righteous"

He was murdered before he had the chance to do that.

"Don’t practice mugging others at the local park."

Also, he didn’t do that. But, even if he did, are you saying games for children should result in fatal responses?

"Don’t expect that you can laugh it off and explain that it’s not real to make things better"

Even the person who rang 911 told them it was not a real weapon.

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Koby (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Also, he didn’t do that. But, even if he did, are you saying games for children should result in fatal responses?

I’m saying that the police response was very reasonable. No children that I know, or ever knew, were hanging out at a park and waiving a gun around, such that bystanders began placing 9-1-1 calls. It’s not a game anymore when you bring a lookalike firearm to a public location, continuously pull it out and point it at people. Guys of any age who engage in this type of behavior would expect to be involved in a shootout some time soon.

Btw, the police encountered a 5’7" 175 lb guy wearing a men’s size XL jacket. They can’t assume the person that they’re dealing with is a child. I hope that none of this sounds like your idea of a children’s game.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

"No children that I know, or ever knew, were hanging out at a park and waiving a gun around"

No children I know were shot by police, so clearly that didn’t happen.

Wait.. I grew up in a country where the cops were civilised, rational and didn’t carry guns.

"They can’t assume the person that they’re dealing with is a child"

So… you’re OK with the death penalty for black men over the age of 18, then? I don’t think that’s much better. By the way, the 911 caller told them it was a teenager with a toy.

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Cowardly Lion says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m fine with the police driving wherever they want.

I’m not. But clearly you think it’s fine for the police to use their cruisers as battering rams as they did during the recent protects.

3.) When the cops roll up on you, at any distance, don’t reach into your waistband and begin producing a realistic looking weapon.

Because neither officer had their body cams on the only evidence was the low-res low frame-rate camera across the street, and despite the CPDs best efforts it shows no such thing. Rice’s shirt wasn’t tucked in; he’d never have reached anything under his waistband. The police lied. Just like they lied when Loehmann claimed he called out 3 times "show me your hands" before opening fire, through their cruisers open window, before it had even skidded to a stop.

The whole thing was bullshit from start to finish.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

In case anyone is confused, the department ended up settling for $6 million due to the fuck ups made by the department, including by the dispatchers and the police at the scene. While that’s never a substitute for a life, the people banging on endlessly about what Rice was doing with his hands for the split seconds between him getting confusing orders from a sudden appearance of a cop car and his execution are probably not considering the whole story if they don’t consider that payment.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"you have only moments to make a decision and respond"

They responded to a call that could have been dealt with at a distance by driving the car at speed toward him and shouting orders before the car had even come to a complete stop. In response to a 911 call that stated that he was a juvenile and that it was probably a toy gun and there was no immediate danger other than the caller being uncomfortable (although it seems that information was not relayed to the officers).

If they had to make a snap judgement call that required deadly force as a default option, that’s the cops’ fault and damning of the US police system.

Instead of whining about your racist friends being kicked off Twitter for being racist, you should find factual sources that give you a complete story on a subject. It can be enlightening when you get the facts that have been omitted from the right-wing echo chambers you seem to frequent so much.

tom (profile) says:

And now for something really scary. It seems that another town was willing to hire this guy even after he shot Tamir and lied to Cleveland about his prior record.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/08/us/timothy-loehmann-tamir-rice-shooting.html

He may be currently unemployed if this article is correct:
https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2021/02/08/president-of-cleveland-cop-football-team-resigns-after-protest-coverage-of-timothy-loehmanns-participation

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What’s that, you mean just firing a corrupt and/or murderous cop with a ‘And don’t let me catch you doing that again’ isn’t enough to keep them from just joining back up elsewhere? Imagine that, must be why for anyone without a badge(or hefty bank account) there are actual penalties for actions committed.

Talk about sending a horrifying message to the public they theoretically serve… ‘A cop who gunned down a kid and lied about his record? Hell yes, that is exactly the kind of person we want working for and with us.’

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

From the Miami Herald:

He will earn a princely sum: a salary starting at $315,000 a year with five percent annual increases and a $700 monthly allowance to oversee the city’s 1,400 sworn police officers. The city also agreed to paying Acevedo $50,000 to relocate to South Florida.

By comparison, Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez, who has more than 3,000 sworn officers, had a base salary of $217,000 in 2020.

Anonymous Coward says:

we don't care!

beat, assault, shoot, kill, maim it doesn’t matter QI will kick in and make any charge go away! BUT lie to us and boy you are in for a world of hurt!
see, we don’t care if you ruin lives, destroy family’s, put innocent people in jail, or kill them, lie to people, lie in court, lie to everyone. just don’t lie to government. we don’t like that!

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restless94110 (profile) says:

Helpful Tips

Here is a helpful advice for all kids of every race: do not walk around a park with a gun that looks real. If you see a cop car driving up on you? Throw your gun to the ground and put your hands up.

Most kids know this instinctively. Some don’t though. They seem to think that in cities chock a block full of black gun violence that they should go to public parks with their guns and everything will just be fine.

How could anyone be that stupid?

And then the 2nd guessers come in. The cops should have known. They should have gone to a fortune telling lady before to determine the motive of the male with the gun. It’s all so easy to see in hindsight. Vision is always 20/20 then.

Enough of this nonsense. There needs to be classes in all city schools especially in black majority schools on dealing with the police. Do not hold a gun of any kind; do not resist arrest; do not disobey police orders. You want to fight an unfair or illegal arrest? Do so in court, not in the street.

All kids would be required to take such courses and pass them. Start them in 5th grade. Sign o’ the times. Classes on dealing with police and learning what and what not to do. Real talk. Real education.

In the meantime, throw your (toy) gun to the ground immediately.
And live to see another day.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Helpful Tips

So, black kids should expect to be shot if they don’t tread on eggshells around polite white people… and I expect you think this is not a racist comment? OK…

"The cops should have known"

Actually they should. The 911 call clearly stated a juvenile with what they thought was a fake gun. The inability to relay that information to the responding officers cost the department $6 million.

These are documented facts. Why are you ignoring them?

"In the meantime, throw your (toy) gun to the ground immediately."

Did you see the video? I don’t think I’d have been able to react quickly enough to have satisfied the delay between shouting and shooting, and I’m as white as they come. In fact, there’s a good argument that Rice was trying to throw the gun to the floor as per one of the orders shouted at him, but because he couldn’t touch the gun without reaching for the place it was stored, he was murdered.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

There needs to be classes in all city schools especially in black majority schools on dealing with the police.

Holy shit, that’s racist as fuck. Maybe instead of teaching Black people that they’re the problem, try teaching the police that they’re not supposed to treat all Black people like potential criminals and all citizens as people instead of “enemy combatants”.

Just like the burden of erasing White supremacy lies on White people, the burden of ending police brutality lies on the police — not their victims. Besides, as countless cases have proven, a person can do everything right and still end up beaten or dead because a cop decided to go too far.

BTW: I bet you think Breonna Taylor deserved to die.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Helpful Tips

  • do not walk around a park with a gun that looks real.*

Unless you are a Second Amendment Worshipper and white AF. Then you can parade around with assault rifles or whatever and get in people’s faces, including cops and politicians. It’s all cool.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Helpful Tips

Indeed. White “patriot” with a tiny penis and fear of valid protests? Shoot a couple of people dead and go home. Play with a toy gun in the very store that sells them? You’re getting shot because people were afraid of your blackness.

I hope I don’t have to specify which cases I’m referring to, but the sad thing it’s too common

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Helpful Tips

They should have gone to a fortune telling lady before to determine the motive of the male with the gun.

What if it was real and he had a legal permit for it? I’d ask all the pro-2A folks to chime in as to whether it’s fair to shoot someone just for carrying a gun, without verifying there’s not a legal permit for it?

And before you chime in "he was 12 years old" I’d ask whether the fortune teller would’ve told their stupid asses that as well?

Do not hold a gun of any kind; do not resist arrest; do not disobey police orders. You want to fight an unfair or illegal arrest? Do so in court, not in the street.

So no 2A, pay out of pocket for a lawyer, all because those poor poor cops are simple minded fuck-ups, scared shitless of their own shadows…great idea – you 1st. I hear alot of right-wingers describing people as sheep. I don’t know how you feel politically, but that’s really fucking sheepish behavior you’re advocating.

I say why not hire police that aren’t glorified pussies, or mental nutjobs like the asshole who shot Tamir.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Helpful Tips

Bingo. Victim blaming won’t work when there are instances of people being shot through a window in the house they’re babysitting, being shot when obeying officer commands to get their licence, being shot while prone on the ground with their hands up or being shot in a Wal Mart for playing with a toy sold in the store. Those are just a handful of specific real life cases.

While black people stop being murdered by police without being aware of the presence of officers or while obeying direct commands, there’s no place for victim blaming.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Helpful Tips

"Here is a helpful advice for all kids of every race: do not walk around a park with a gun that looks real."

And if we had been talking about a white person you’d have defended open carry to the death, right? Because a white man walking down main street toting a genuine AR-15 shouldn’t expect to be either apprehended or shot by law enforcement.

That’s the problem with you alt-right assholes. We don’t even have to ask the question on whether it’s all about race or not when you consistently condemn in one person what you laud in another – with the sole difference being that of skin color. 2A is for white people only. That’s what you’re saying.

The only issue left to discuss is why you asshats are still being such spineless losers that you’ll go balls to the wall trying to weasel out of ever saying what you actually believe – because if there’s anything the entitled snowflakes of the right apparently can’t handle it’s actually having to stand for their actual opinions when they aren’t baying it out in a large crowd of like-minded.

Since when should an american have to worry about getting shot to death for holding a gun? Real or not. Black or white? Here’s the easy answer – every time, if the guy holding the gun is a black kid with a toy gun. Had that been a white guy you’d be screaming to high heaven that The Kenyan Muslim was comin’ for your guns.

"There needs to be classes in all city schools especially in black majority schools on dealing with the police."

Well, I stand corrected. And there we have your assertion that of course it’s all the fault of black people who are somehow too dumb to try to not get shot by police officers. That’s not just a racist dogwhistle anymore, you’re sounding the foghorn.

"Start them in 5th grade. Sign o’ the times. Classes on dealing with police and learning what and what not to do. Real talk. Real education. "

Or you could learn to be civilized, like the rest of the world, and try to acquire a police force which doesn’t kill a thousand times as many people as it would ever need to.
Because statistically the US police is still killing more people than actual murderers do in quite a few other countries. And more by far than ANY of the G20.

But I guess changing things for the better is anathema to the alt-right who have persuaded themselves that the US sucks so bad at everything that nation can’t accomplish anything the rest of the world manages pretty easily, eh?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Officer history cannot be consideredn in hiring.

Bloody hell, talk about a hiring practice tailor made to protect scum, not being able to take into account their record when it comes to hiring them.

As for what’s stopping him from just repeating his past actions scroll up a bit, apparently another city searching for a killer to hire already snapped him up, though he may or may not be on the payroll at the moment.

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