The Tioga Borough official instrumental in hiring the ex-Cleveland police officer who killed Tamir Rice in 2014 resigned. As reported by the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Tioga Borough Council President Steve Hazlett resigned Friday after the backlash to the hiring of Timothy Loehmann.
According to the state’s attorney general, former Tioga Borough Council President Steve Hazlett disregarded state law in hiring Timothy Loehmann, the ex-Cleveland police officer who killed Tamir Rice in 2014. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro sent Hazlett a letter outlining his violation of state law in Loehmann’s hiring process.
In the letter provided to NewsOne, Shapiro directly challenged Hazlett’s failure to follow existing law in hiring Loehmann.
“MPOETC records show that this check was not performed when Tioga Borough hired Loehmann,” wrote Shapiro. “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.”
Further, Shapiro outlined the legal requirements that departments must undergo when hiring police officers. He also drew Hazlett’s attention to Act 57, which requires departments responsible for hiring police officers to be “fully aware of a candidate’s past history of misconduct and any resulting discipline.”
Passed in 2020, Shapiro says the law was meant to prevent the exact incident with Tioga Borough hiring Loehmann. The Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission website has various briefings and information about how to follow the guidelines outlined in Act 57. The act also applies to school districts that hire school resource and police officers.
Hazlett told the Sun-Gazette that he and others, including Tioga Borough Mayor David Wilcox, were aware of Loehmann’s background. Wilcox previously told local news the information blindsided him.
As reported by NewsOne, Hazlett made a dehumanizing Facebook post about Tamir Rice in 2015, only to turn around and hire his killer seven years later. It’s no surprise that Hazlett would be okay with hiring Loehmann.
Loehmann would have been the town’s only full-time officer, which had been without an officer for a year and a half. He resigned shortly after being sworn in. The Sun-Gazette reported that Hazlett’s wife, who served as the borough counsel, resigned.
Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother, responded to the news after it initially broke.
“The system is broken because police reform is actually not working,” she told reporters. “You would hire someone knowing he has murdered a 12-year-old child. How dare you. How dare you do it.”