According to Reuters, the Cleveland police officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy playing with a pellet gun at a park last month left his previous job with a suburban police department after a string of suitability problems, including immaturity and "dismal" handgun performance, personnel records showed.
The shooting of Tamir Rice, who is black, by 26-year-old officer Timothy Loehmann on November 23, 2014, sparked protests in Cleveland, and came amid flaring tensions nationwide over recent police killings of unarmed black people, most notably in New York and Ferguson, MO.
The US Justice Department said on Thursday (December 4) an investigation found the Cleveland Police Department systematically engages in excessive use of force against civilians.
A memo written by Independence, OH deputy police chief Jim Polak in November 2012 revealed that Loehmann was beset with emotional issues during his brief stint with the department, according to records provided by the Independence police.
The memo, which recommended Loehmann's release from the department, highlighted a "dangerous loss of composure" during a handgun training event where Loehmann was said to be "distracted and weepy" over a girlfriend issue. It said his "handgun performance was dismal."
During Loehmann's background check, Cleveland police detectives did not review his Independence, OH personnel file, Cleveland police spokesman Ali Pillow said in an email.
Polak also wrote that Loehmann once kept his firearm in an unsecured locker, despite being told to lock it, and lied to a superior about abandoning part of his orientation at the city's police dispatch center.
COMMENT: The incidents "show a pattern of a lack of maturity, indiscretion and not following instructions," Deputy Chief Polak said.
"I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies," Polak wrote.
Loehmann decided to resign after Polak recommended his release, the memo said.
Loehmann, who Cleveland police said is on leave, was not available for comment. Nor was Joseph Delguyd, attorney for the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, which represents police officers.
Loehmann fatally shot Tamir Rice, who had an Airsoft-type replica gun that resembles a semiautomatic pistol, last month within two seconds of arriving on-scene.
Pillow said Cleveland detectives interviewed Independence's human resources director during Loehmann's background check, and were not told of any past suitability issues.
About 200 people attended Rice's funeral on Wednesday (December 3).