Officer fired over shooting incident - WFLA News Channel 8

Officer fired over shooting incident

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

A St. Petersburg Police officer is off the job, fired for shooting at a moving car and it's not the only case of its kind. On March 8th 2013 on 18th Avenue south in St. Petersburg, a sergeant and two detectives were working a drug case when somebody in a Toyota almost hit one of them.

The driver sped off on the sidewalk toward the sergeant. All three officers opened fire. For doing so, two will help train other officers; a third is getting a letter in her file. "If you're going to approach a car, it's a 4,000 pound machine. If it's traveling at any speed, a bullet's not going to stop it. Even shooting it or incapacitating the driver is not going to stop that car," said Police Chief Chuck Harmon.

A second case occurred five weeks later on 26th Street South, police injured two teens accused of trying to drive away in a stolen car. The St. Petersburg Shooting Review board found officer George Graves violated policy, writing, "No one was being threatened with death or great bodily harm at the time he discharged his weapon."

"He shot into a car, wounded somebody as well as shot into a house that was occupied. And that's pretty egregious conduct in my opinion" said Chief Harmon.

The Chief terminated officer George Graves, the first time he's done so under these circumstances, and gave 80 hour work suspensions to two others.

The President of the St. Petersburg NAACP, Dr. Manual Sykes said, many people are jaded about police shooting investigations. "When you have a discipline given out, I believe it restores the confidence in the community that yes; there is somebody that's going to hold officers accountable."

Dr. Sykes believes a cultural change may in order so police hitting the streets have a different attitude about when to fire their guns.

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