Who says protests don’t work? Residents of a small Pennsylvania town proved today that they could get results while their elected representatives were asleep at the wheel, raising their voices to force the cop who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice run out of town after he had been hired to join the local police force.
Timothy Loehmann was hired by the tiny town of Tioga, Pa., a speck in remote north-central Pennsylvania just south of the border with New York State. The problem is apparently nobody in Tioga, which has a population of about 700, looked into Loehmann’s background. If they had, they would’ve known he was the same cop who back in 2014 shot and killed Rice, who was playing in a park with a toy gun.
Loehmann, who was ultimately fired from the Cleveland Police but not charged with a crime, shot Rice less than five seconds after he and his partner arrived to investigate a 911 call in which the caller told dispatchers that the subject was likely holding a toy instead of a real pistol.
When Loehmann’s hire made the news, local residents responded with a collective, “Nah, we’re good.”
Loehmann resigned Thursday morning, hours after media outlets reported that the borough of Tioga had hired him. Residents even protested the move at the town’s offices.
Steve Hazlett, the president of the borough’s council, told Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer that Loehmann withdrew his application from the one-person department in the town of 700 people. Hazlett declined to discuss how council’s police committee found Loehmann, other than to say, “We advertise on Indeed,” referring to the online job-seeking site.
Loehmann’s trigger-happiness cost Cleveland taxpayers $6 million in a settlement over a civil rights lawsuits with Rice’s parents. But unlike hundreds of violent cops nationally, none of that stopped Loehmann from applying to be a cop elsewhere, even though he had already been fired from a previous department that determined he wasn’t cut out for police work.
That’s largely because despite the cost to taxpayers in both life and blood, no national system exists to keep track of officers with histories of misconduct or whose behavior has led to civil judgments against them. Even when cops like Loehmann get fired, they often just apply elsewhere and do it all over again.
In 2018, the Bellaire, Ohio, police department hired Loehmann, but he resigned within days after protests there.