CLEVELAND (AP) — A Cleveland police officer who was fired after a high-speed chase led to a 137-shot barrage that killed two unarmed black people says he wants to return to the force.
Six police officers were fired last month in connection with the November 2012 shooting. The chase began when officers mistook a car backfiring for a gunshot, and it ended in an East Cleveland parking lot. Thirteen officers fired their guns, killing driver Timothy Russell and passenger Malissa Williams.
Former officer Freddy Diaz, who fired first, told WJW-TV (http://bit.ly/1oqvOyK ) the scene was a scary and “horrific” experience.
“I don’t want to relive it, I don’t want to think about it but it is always going to be embedded in my heart and my mind,” Diaz said.
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The acquittal of a different officer, who is white, on manslaughter charges in the shooting drew protests, and the case helped lead to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that calls for bias-free policing in Cleveland.
Diaz was found guilty of several administrative charges that alleged he didn’t get proper permission to join the pursuit and acted contrary to his training when he left the cover of his vehicle and fired at the suspect vehicle.
The city wouldn’t comment on Diaz’s case as his firing and five others are being appealed through grievances by Cleveland’s largest police union.
The union’s president, Steve Loomis, has described the firings as unbelievable, unprecedented and politically motivated.
Dozens more officers were given suspensions of varying lengths in connection with their actions during the chase or shooting.
Information from: WJW-TV, http://www.fox8.com