The Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice more than three years ago may soon be back on the force after being fired in May.
The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association started arbitration hearings Wednesday for former Officer Timothy Loehmann to get his job back and are set to finish Friday. The arbitrator has up to 60 days to make a decision, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Det. Steve Loomis, who was the police union president at the time of Loehmann’s firing, had previously said he believes Loehmann will get his job back and that his firing was politically motivated.
On Thursday night, Rice’s mother, Samaria, told reporters that rehiring Loehmann would endanger the lives of people in Cleveland.
“I find it disturbing that the Cleveland police division would even entertain the thought of hiring Loehmann back or giving him back his gun,” Rice said at a press conference. “How can we trust his judgment if he is a known liar? How can we trust his actions when he has already murdered my son?”
Loehmann resigned from the police department in Independence, Ohio, on Dec. 4, 2012, after his superiors determined he was unfit to serve in law enforcement, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“He could not follow simple directions, could not communicate clear thoughts nor recollections, and his handgun performance was dismal,” Independence Police Deputy Chief Jim Polak said in a November 2012 personnel letter describing Loehmann. “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.”
In 2013, Loehmann pursued a job with Cleveland police. His father told reporters his son “grew tired of the slow pace of suburban policing,” the Plain Dealer reported.
Cleveland police hired Loehmann in March 2014 after he completed his training at the city’s police academy. He fatally shot Rice about eight months later.
Samaria Rice’s attorney, Subodh Chandra, said Cleveland’s union arbitrators have a history of siding with officers in misconduct cases.
“I wish I could say I was optimistic an arbitrator would do the right thing, but given the terrible track record, I have significant concerns,” he said. “They continue to subject the city of Cleveland and its residents to dangerous people wearing badges and guns.”