HARRISBURG, Pa. — Editor's Note: The above video is from previous reporting on this story
National attention was thrust upon the tiny Pennsylvania town of Tioga Borough this week after the hiring of former Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014.
Following demonstrations throughout the area, Loehmann subsequently withdrew his application on Thursday. However, the top law enforcement official in Pennsylvania is taking the Tioga Borough council president to task for not conducting a thorough background check on Loehmann.
According to Pennsylvania law, agencies must consult the police hiring database for records of past disciplinary action taken against any prospective candidate.
"Records show that this check was not performed when Tioga Borough hired Loehmann." Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote to Tioga Borough Council President Steve Hazlett in a letter released on Friday. "To be clear, failure to thoroughly check a potential hire’s background, including searching the database for any past disciplinary activities, is a violation of state law."
12-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by Loehmann on November 22, 2014 after police received a call about a "guy with a pistol" outside of Cleveland's Cudell Recreation Center. Rice had been playing with a pellet gun and officers said that they did not know that he was a juvenile and that he was playing with a toy before he was fatally shot twice.
The caller, who was drinking a beer and waiting for a bus, told a 911 dispatcher that it was probably a juvenile and the gun might be "fake," though that information was never relayed to the officers.
In 2015, an Ohio grand jury declined to charge Loehmann. He was fired in 2016 after an investigation showed that he lied on his application to become a police officer. Loehmann attempted to join the Bellaire Police Department in 2018, but resigned just days after being hired.
In 2021, an appeals court upheld Loehmann's firing and the Ohio Supreme Court later declined to take his appeal. No member of the Cleveland Division of Police was ever charged as a result of Rice's death.
"Your failure to run this required check erodes the public’s faith in your leadership and the public’s trust in the officer you ultimately select. The public deserves to have every confidence that the men and women serving in uniform have been rigorously vetted and have duly earned their positions," Shapiro added.
Shapiro is the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor and will face off against GOP candidate Doug Mastriano this fall.
You can read the entire letter from Attorney General Shapiro below:
The decision to hire Loehmann was also met with anger by the mother of Tamir Rice. "It’s really pathetic and sad that anybody would give this man a job," Samaria Rice told 3News earlier this week. "Timothy Loehmann should never have a job, nowhere across the country, after murdering my son."