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.