Black players protest after man who killed Tamir Rice revealed as teammate

The football players say they were booted from the Cleveland Warriors for having an issue with Timothy Loehmann on their team.

Timothy Loehmann, the police officer who fired the fatal shot that killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, was welcomed to join an amateur football team called the Cleveland Warriors made up of police officers and first responders. 

Upon learning of his identity, six Black players on the squad protested, and they allege they were kicked off the team for their action. 

Tamir Rice
The inclusion of Timothy Loehmann, the now-former police officer who infamously shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice (above), on a Cleveland cops’ amateur football team has sparked some outcry. (Courtesy of Rice Family)

One former player, Randy Knight, said that he didn’t recognize Loehmann, who went by his first name. As Knight described to the website Ideastream: “Everyone else is called by his last name. Everyone else — Knight, Sullivan — but when it comes to Timothy, they called him Tim or Timmy.” 

Knight said that he left the team because he was concerned about what his family and community would think about him playing with the former officer. 

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Loehmann hasn’t been a full-time policeman since 2017. He was fired by the City of Cleveland for lying on his job application: He failed to disclose that he had been involved in a previous shooting in another district. 

He is still fighting to get his job back, with the support of the city’s police union.

The president of the Warriors team, Bill Sofranko, didn’t respond to requests for comment, according to The Cleveland Scene; however, they noted he had previously told players that Loehmann had “been through a lot.”

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“‘This is all he got, football is all he got. He been through a lot, and it eats him up at night,'” another former Warriors team member, Patrick Sullivan, said Sofranko replied when he voiced his concerns about Loehmann two years ago. “I said, ‘Bill, what about the family of Tamir Rice? It eats them up every day.'”

The news outlet WEWS reached out to Rice’s mother, Samaria, who called Loehmann’s inclusion on the team — which is supposed to include only active law enforcement — “disgusting and it’s horrible. And the community should be concerned about how he keeps trying to slither his way back in different communities and different counties.”

The U.S. Department of Justice quietly closed its case into whether or not Loehmann violated Tamir Rice’s civil rights when he shot the boy almost immediately after arriving at a park where he was playing with a toy gun. 

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