TIOGA, Pa. (WETM) – The officer who shot and killed a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland almost eight years ago has been sworn in as the Tioga Borough Police Officer, according to the Borough Mayor. But he said that the officer won’t be starting work any time soon.
Timothy Loehmann was sworn in at the July 5, 2022 Borough meeting, Mayor David Wilcox confirmed in a phone call, saying to the best of his knowledge, it is the same Timothy Loehmann as the one who was fired from the Cleveland Police Department after the 2014 killing. Wilcox claimed that the council did not allow him to see Loehmann’s resume when they interviewed him, adding that he had nothing to do with the hiring process.
Hours after the meeting, Council President Steve Hazlett posted a photo on Facebook, saying “Timothy Loehmann is your new Tioga police officer.” The photo showed Loehmann getting sworn in at the meeting.
18 News reached out to Borough Council President Steve Hazlett, as well as other Borough and County Officials, but none of them responded. The Borough Office is closed for the entire week of July 3.
Hazlett’s post prompted a firestorm of controversy and criticism in the comments. And in the evening on July 6, community members, including Mayor Wilcox, demonstrated outside the Tioga Borough office.
Addressing the demonstrators, Wilcox reaffirmed his claims that he played no part in hiring Loehmann, and added, “I make his schedule, so I would determine the day that he’s actually patrolling.”
Some in the crowd responded, “So, never?”
“At this point, it’s not happening,” Wilcox replied, resulting in applause from the group. Wilcox said he believed the people of the Borough and the Council need to come to a peaceful resolution as soon as possible.
Former Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann drew national attention in November 2014 when he shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Rice, who was black, had a pellet gun tucked in his waistband at the time of the shooting.
In statements provided after the shooting, Loehmann and his partner Officer Frank Garmback said that Loehmann had given Rice several commands to show his hands. Both officers also said they saw Rice reaching for the pellet gun.
Prosecutors said the two officers were the only witnesses in the “vicinity of the shooting”, the Associated Press wrote.
A grand jury didn’t indict Loehmann. He was later fired in 2017 for reportedly providing false information on his job application. In July 2021, the Ohio Supreme Court denied Loehmann’s appeal to get his job back.
In December 2020, the United States Justice Department said it wouldn’t bring federal charges against Loehmann. And in early 2022, the Justice Department reaffirmed this decision, saying it wouldn’t reopen the probe into Tamir’s death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.