Bellaire police chief Richard Flanagan confirmed Friday that he’d hired Loehmann as a part-time officer, saying he believed the embattled officer deserved “a second chance.”
“He was cleared of any and all wrongdoing,” Flanagan told The Times Leader, saying he had no reservations about bringing Loehmann on to work for his department. “He was never charged. It’s over and done with.”
In November 2014, Loehmann and his then-partner officer Frank Garmback responded to a 911 call about a man waving a gun in a local park in Cleveland. The emergency dispatcher failed to tell officers the gun was likely a fake, however, and resulted in Loehmann shooting and killing Rice less than three seconds after arriving at the scene.
Despite video evidence of the deadly encounter, a grand jury declined to indict either of the officers on criminal charges in the child’s killing. The city of Cleveland, which also admitted no wrongdoing, awarded the slain boy’s family a $6 million settlement in April 2016.
Loehmann, who is white, was fired by the department last year for reasons unrelated to Rice’s killing. It turned out he had lied about his job history to the Cleveland Division of Police, omitting the fact he was deemed “unfit for duty” and forced to resign as an officer in Independence, Ohio. He also failed a Maple Heights Police Department exam in 2009, which he failed to disclose, The Cleveland Scene reported.
Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, was unnerved by news of Loehmann’s hiring.
“Ms. Rice believes that Timothy Loehmann does not belong on any police force, anywhere, period,” Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra tweeted Friday. “Someone with his record should not be subjected upon the citizenry. But she does hope that this means that he will not ever return to Cleveland.”
Despite the controversy, Flanagan said he thought it was unfair for folks to “crucify” Loehmann for what happened.
“I have full confidence and faith in every police officer here,” Flanagan said. “We have eight full-time officers and five part-time officers. And if anyone is looking for a part-time job, call me. All officers are on a probationary period of one year.”
Flanagan also hired Eric Smith, Bethesda’s still-suspended police chief who remains under investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s for reportedly misusing a statewide computer system for police, The Times Leader reported.