|CPD officer Timothy Loehmann|
One of the unfortunate results of two separate juries in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York finding no grounds to charge police officers in the deaths of two different unarmed African-American men, is that even more public focus will be directed upon the city of Cleveland with regards to the death of 12 year-old Tamir Rice.
The release of recent documents suggests the case in Cleveland is about to take a sad turn that makes the case even more tragic than it already is.
The release of yesterday's report on MSNBC.com about documents showing that Timothy A. Loehmann (pictured above, left), the 26 year-old rookie Cleveland police officer who shot Tamir Rice, had been forced to resign from his previous job as a patrolmen in the suburban Cleveland Independence police department because of his lackluster training performance is heartbreaking.
The MSNBC article by M. Alex Johnson quotes a memo dated November, 2012 from Independence PD deputy chief Jim Polak who states:
“Due to this dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment,” Polak wrote on Nov. 29. “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.” Five days later, Loehmann resigned."
Now if Loehmann was as incompetent as this memo suggests, what the Hell was he doing on the Cleveland Police Department?
The MSNBC article quotes deputy chief Polak as saying of Loehman, “his handgun performance was dismal.”
If his ability to use a firearm was so "dismal", did the members of the HR department responsible for hiring CPD officers even bother to look at that memo before hiring him?
The Tamir Rice tragedy begins (in part) with the fact that Loehmann was the guy the Cleveland Police dispatcher sent to a public park to confront a 12 year-old playing with a pellet gun.
Obviously there's still a long way to go in the investigation of the death of Tamir Rice, and whether or not Timothy Loehmann will face charges, but we appear to be at a precipice in this nation.
I'm a realistic optimist, but I have to believe that Loehmann's competency, coupled with the growing national demand for justice in cases like this, will have some kind of impact on whether this case will see the inside of a courtroom.
The curious reluctance of state and local courts to actively prosecute cases of police brutality against people of color has been commonplace for over two centuries; so it's not going to change overnight.
But perhaps the widespread use of technology like video, combined with social media platforms and the speed of the Internet will serve as a catalyst to speed that up.
Not that we really need another example of police brutality against black people, but take the Texas grand jury who didn't indict Jasper, Texas officers Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham; who were caught on videotape beating the crap out of a black Jasper civilian named Keyarika Diggles.
As an article by Sam Brodey posted on MotherJones.com reported, Ms. Diggles is a black woman who had been already been jailed in May, 2013 over a $100 parking ticket (which she had been making regular payments on...) when video tape shows officers Grissom and Cunningham slamming her head against a counter and dragging her into a cell by her feet.
Remember, Ms. Diggles was already inside the jail.
For arguments sake, let's just say that no video of either the shooting of Tamir Rice, or the vicious beating of Ms. Diggles existed; would there have been any external pressure to prosecute the officers in these two very different but very tragic cases?
The answer points to a deep schism in this country that must be bridged; and soon.