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‘I Found It Strange That Someone Would Move Here … for $18 an Hour’: Tamir Rice’s Killer Resigns One Day after Being Sworn In as Sole Police Officer for Small Pennsylvania County Following Outrage

Protesters that disagreed with a small borough in Pennsylvania’s decision to hire the former Cleveland officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy killed in a playground while playing with a pellet gun in 2014, have successfully moved him off of the force. The man resigned from his new post a day after the news was reported by the press.

Timothy Loehmann, 32, is without a job again. He exited his new position in the Tioga Police Department after national attention brought social justice advocates out to protest his hire. The hire was done by the Borough of Tioga’s Council, but the mayor says he didn’t know all the details about the newly hired cop.

Had he stayed in the position, he would have been the sole police officer in the Keystone State municipality of 600 to 700 people with a racial makeup, according to the Census data, of more than 97 percent white residents and less than 1 percent Black residents.

News of his hire sparked national outrage and local disgust as Tiogan residents lifted their voices to the borough’s leadership.

Borough Council president Steve Hazlett shared the news of his Thursday morning resignation, saying to The Associated Press, “The community spoke. They got their feelings out, and we listened to them and we’re going to react to it and that will be that.”

“We thank the community for stepping forward and letting their voices be heard,” he continued.

Loehmann’s hiring and swearing-in were announced by Hazlett on Wednesday, July 6, 24 hours before he withdrew his application.

Hazlett did not talk publicly about how the Council’s police committee discovered Loehmann’s application but did say “We advertise on Indeed.”

Some people still questioned if there was a connection between the leader and officer. While no clear association has been made, News One found an old Facebook post, which has since been deleted, that is purportedly of the Council president calling the deceased preteen “dumb” and suggesting the boy got what he deserved.

On Dec. 30, 2015, a Steve Hazlett posted on his social media profile an article titled, “Can YOU Tell Which One Of These Is A Fake Gun? It’s The One Tamir Rice Was Holding.”

Hazlett followed the link with the caption, “Dumb enough to pull a fake gun, dumb enough to get shot.” 

I Found It Strange That Someone Would Move Here ... for  an Hour': Tamir Rice?s Killer Resigns One Day after Being Sworn In as Sole Police Officer for Small Pennsylvania County Following Outrage
Tioga County Council President Steve Hazlett’s Facebook post about Tamir Rice. He is the man who hired Timothy Loehmann to be the sole officer in the Tioga Police Department. Screengrab captured by NewsOne.

The lawyer for the Rice family, Subodh Chandra, said the decision to bring the former office on displayed the politicians in the community’s “atrociously poor judgment,” reported.

She said, “While it is welcome news that Loehmann won’t be inflicting himself on the people of Tioga, the officials of that town need to be held accountable for their atrociously poor judgment.”

Tioga’s mayor wanted everyone to know that he had no clue that Rice’s killer was being brought on as the city’s point on law enforcement.

Mayor David Wilcox said, “I had zero knowledge of [about] the candidate that we just hired for our police department,” and thought at least the Council had vetted the hire.

The executive said it was the Council’s responsibility to conduct the search, interview, vet, negotiate the salary, and hire and fire new police officers.

On Wednesday, after the announcement was made, he said, “I was under the impression that there was a thorough background check into him, that he didn’t have any issues.”

“I found it strange that someone would move here all the way from Cleveland, Ohio, for $18 an hour. But I heard that he wanted to get away from it all and come here to hunt and fish.”

During an impromptu press conference on Facebook, he doubled down, “I was told that there was an extensive background check, numerous phone calls made and there were no negative marks on his record and that he would be a great candidate for this town.”

He also said he thought it was unusual that Hazlett would doing a swearing-in, since that was a ceremony no longer practiced in the borough. Wilcox said, “We don’t swear anyone in anymore.” 

Understanding the venom behind the hire, the mayor said he was not willing to sit with Loehmann and the council about him coming to the borough. Wilcox, when speaking about his disdain for the decision, particularly since he never heard about Loehmann’s shooting of Rice, “I don’t want this to tear our town apart.”

Since Rice’s death, many agencies have had issues with hiring Loehmann as a part of their policing staff.

Similar to the Tioga hire, in 2018, Loehmann found part-time work in Bellaire, Ohio, and quit shortly after starting. The shadow of Rice’s death follows him.

On Nov. 22, 2014, Loehmann, then a rookie cop, fatally shot Rice at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland when he was playing with an airsoft pellet gun. He says he believed it was a dangerous firearm.

At the time, he was in the passenger seat of a patrol car mastered by Officer Frank Garmback, an experienced training vet in the department.

The two received a dispatch that someone had a gun and was pointed it at people outside of the community center. The individual who made the report said distinctly that the gun looked fake, however, that was never shared with the responding officers.

No criminal charges were upheld against the shooter and Garmback only served five days of the original ten days suspension he received for his role in the shooting.

In 2015, a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to indict the officers and federal prosecutors declined to bring the case to a grand jury.

Eventually, the city of Cleveland fired Loehmann. In 2017, he was terminated not for the Rice killing, but for lying on his application to the Cleveland police department. 

According to city officials, the ex-cop failed to disclose he was dismissed from the Independence Police Department after they determined he was unfit to serve on their force.

The Rice family filed and settled a federal civil-rights lawsuit with the city of Cleveland. The family received a $6 million payout.

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