Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Mind of Steve Loomis

Tone deaf? CPPA president Steve Loomis
Want a snapshot of just how little the culture of the Cleveland Police Department seems to have absorbed the larger societal implications of the unjustified killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice back in 2014?

The absurd comments made by Steve Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association are instructive.

In a CPPA press release issued yesterday after the city awarded Rice's family a $6 million settlement that absolves the officer who shot and killed Rice of any responsibility for his death, Loomis suggested the following:

"We can only hope the Rice family and their attorneys will use a portion of this settlement to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms."

It might have been more helpful for Loomis to direct his apparent zeal for youths being exposed to firearms on the National Rifle Association and their efforts to weaken gun control laws in the state of Ohio and elsewhere around the nation.

No doubt the still-traumatized members of Tamir Rice's family appreciate Loomis' advice on how to spend the money awarded as a direct result of the incompetence and flagrantly unprofessional actions of the two members of the CPD who took their child's life.

Lest we forget, Rice was playing with a toy gun in a park.

Timothy Loehmann
After officer Frank Garmback pulled the patrol car up to less than 20 feet from where Rice was standing, officer Timothy Loehmann jumped out and shot and killed Rice within 35 seconds of pulling up to the scene; (if Loomis has helpful suggestions on how CPD cops might prevent the "mishandling" of such situations in the future no doubt they'd be welcome).

Loomis' snide press release failed to mention that Loehmann was ripped apart as incompetent and unfit to serve as an Independence (Ohio) police officer in a training evaluation written November 29, 2012.

An eerily prophetic evaluation, written almost exactly two years to the day before Loehamnn shot and killed Tamir Rice, by Independence PD deputy police chief Jim Polak, who wrote of Loehmann's conduct and performance during live fire training:

"Due to this dangerous loss of composure during live training and his inability to manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment....I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies." 

The Cleveland Police Department hired him anyway, and that's the guy who ended up jumping out of a police car to confront a 12-year-old with a toy gun in the middle of a public park in broad daylight.

The deplorable efforts by Loomis to suggest Rice was responsible for his own death aside, the Cleveland PD had been under federal investigation for the habitual use of excessive force for well over a year by the time Rice was shot in 2014 - including the punching of a 13-year-old who was in handcuffs for shoplifting.

Rice family attorney Jonathan Abady
On a segment of The Brian Lehrer Show earlier this morning, the Rice family's lead attorney, Jonathan Abady (pictured left) sat down with Brian for a really insightful and eloquent summary of the larger implications of the settlement with the city of Cleveland.

If you're interested in a really sharp legal observation on the prosecution of police officers for the flagrant misuse of deadly force, click the link above and give the segment a listen - it runs about 20 minutes.

Abady spoke with conviction and restrained passion about what the settlement awarded to Tamir Rice's family means for the outrageous frequency of unjustified uses of deadly police force against unarmed black and Hispanic suspects in this country.

Abady observed that ultimately, the dollar amount of the settlement means very little to Tamir Rice's family compared to the loss of their child's life before his thirteenth birthday.

He echoed the need for courts and prosecutors around the nation to begin to hold officers like Timothy Loehmann legally accountable for their actions.

$140 million for Hulk's privacy?
One of the most interesting observations during the segment came when host Brian Lehrer, who rarely spoke during Abady's comments, took a call from a listener who observed that former wrestling star Hulk Hogan was recently awarded $114 million in damages by a jury for the invasion of privacy he suffered when Gawker.com posted a sex tape that showed him doing the deed - the same jury also awarded him an additional $25 million in punitive damages for a total of $140 million.

As the caller noted, that amount will likely be reduced on appeal.

But it says something about the American legal system that a guy who's famous for being a fake wrestler is awarded $140 million for a tape of him having sex getting posted online - but the family of a 12 year-old African-American boy who was shot killed by police is awarded $6 million.

It begs the question, do black lives matter?

The remarkably insensitive press release comments of the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association Steve Loomis offer insight into what some members of the Cleveland PD think about that - as does the fact that Tamir Rice is dead and the officer responsible for killing him won't face legal responsibility for it in a court of law.

But perhaps more importantly, the mind of Steve Loomis offers us valuable insight into how the subconscious thoughts inside the heads of some members of the law enforcement community can influence the split-second decision to serve and protect, or simply pull the trigger when circumstances clearly don't warrant such an irreversible choice.

In that sense, the mind of Steve Loomis is instructive.

Sadly misinformed and clearly biased, but instructive.

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