Tamir Rice's mom asks Ohio Supreme Court to block rehiring of Cleveland officer who fatally shot son

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The mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to prevent the former Cleveland police officer who shot and killed her son more than six years ago from returning to the force.  

The fatal incident happened on Nov. 22, 2014, when officers were dispatched to Cleveland Cudell Recreation Park after a 911 caller reported that a “guy with a pistol” was pointing what appeared to be a weapon at others. The caller told a dispatcher that it was probably a juvenile and the gun might be “fake,” though that information was never relayed to the officers. 

Seconds after Officer Timothy Loehmann, who was then a 26-year-old rookie cop, and his partner, 46-year-old Officer Frank Garmback, arrived at the scene, Loehmann fatally shot Rice. Further investigation revealed Rice was carrying a nonlethal pellet gun, which federal investigators said was “visually virtually indistinguishable from a real .45 Colt semiautomatic pistol.”

In December 2015, a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against the officers. 

An amicus brief filed Monday on behalf of Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, requests that the Ohio Supreme Court block the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association’s effort to get Loehmann’s job back.

Loehmann was fired from the Cleveland Police Department in 2017 – but not over Rice’s death. He lied on his application by failing to disclose he had been terminated from another Ohio police department. Records show he had been fired from the Independence Police Department after “his handgun performance was dismal” during firearm qualification training, Cleveland.com reported.

“Timothy Loehmann can’t be trusted. I hope that the Supreme Court does not give him a chance to get back his job,” Samaria Rice said in a statement to WKYC. “The fact that the Cleveland police union is still trying to get him his job despite him killing my child and lying on his application to become a police officer shows you just how immoral that organization’s leadership is.” 

Her request comes after the Cleveland police union filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court to have a state appellate court’s decision upholding Loehmann’s termination overturned, WLS-TV reported. In response to Rice’s filing Monday, Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association attorney Henry Hilow said, “The issues raised in the amicus brief are not the issues being considered by the Supreme Court.”

Loehmann’s “sense of entitlement after not just killing a child but lying to become a police officer should not be rewarded,” Subodh Chandra, an attorney for the Rice family, told WEWS-TV. “He was, and remains, unfit to serve as a police officer, in Cleveland or anywhere else.”

A federal civil rights investigation was opened into Rice’s death during the Obama administration, but the Justice Department closed it during the final weeks of the Trump administration, saying video of the shooting was of too poor a quality to conclusively establish what had happened. 

Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, and Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, asked Biden’s DOJ to reopen the investigation. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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