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The Cleveland police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice last month resigned from a previous small-town police job when he was deemed emotionally unstable and unfit for duty, especially in his handling of firearms.
Video released by the Cleveland police showed Officer Timothy A. Loehmann, 26, shooting Tamir immediately upon leaving his police car on Nov. 22. Investigators said Tamir was reaching into his waistband for a weapon — which turned out to be a toy pellet gun.
A prosecutor plans to take the case before a grand jury to decide any charges. The case has drawn national attention along with the police killing of an unarmed man in Ferguson, Missouri, and the chokehold death of a New York man in a confrontation with an officer.
Loehmann was hired by the Cleveland force in May, personnel records show. Records released by police in the suburb of Independence show that he quit a $42,000-a-year job as a patrolman in training in December 2012, after five months.
In a November 2012 memo, Deputy Chief Jim Polak recommended that Loehmann be dismissed. He questioned Loehmann's ability to follow instructions and to make good decisions in stressful situations.
He cited a report from a firearms instructor who said Loehmann showed up for training "distracted," "weepy" and unable to "communicate clear thoughts," as a result of which "his handgun performance was dismal."
The report described Loehmann as in an "emotional meltdown." It was attributed in part to personal problems with an on-again-off-again girlfriend:
Some of the comments made by Ptl. Loehmann during this discourse were to the effect of, " I should have gone to NY", "maybe I should quit","I have no friends" , "I only hang out with 73 yr old priests", "I have cried every day for 4 months about this girl."
The deputy chief questioned Loehmann's decision-making:
Ptl. Loehmann's inability to perform basic functions as instructed, and his inability to emotionally function because of a personal situation at home with an on and off again girlfriend leads one to believe that he would not be able to substantially cope, or make good decisions, during or resulting from any other stressful situation.
Polak concluded that Loehmann had shown a "dangerous loss of composure" during live range training and lacked the maturity to be on the force.
"I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies," he wrote on Nov. 29. Four days later, Loehmann resigned.