Did Off-Duty Officer Use Too Much Force? - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Did Off-Duty Officer Use Too Much Force?

CLEVELAND – The 911 audiotape of a call made by a Cleveland police officer's wife is shedding new light on a shooting in the officer's backyard, Action News' Ed Gallek reported.

Now neighbors in the West Boulevard community are questioning whether the officer had to use as much force as he did.

Police officials said that off-duty officer James Toomey shot and killed a burglar at his home, and now the tape of the officer's wife and neighbors calling for help is part of their internal investigation.

"He got a gun out on him," Toomey's wife can be heard saying. "My husband's an off-duty Cleveland police officer, and there's an intruder in our backyard. He has him down on the ground with a gun."

Toomey's wife was frantic and scared after being woken in the middle of the night by an intruder last month. As her husband took action by going after the intruder, she decided to call 911 for backup.

The officer found Joey Finley in the backyard. He said that Finley hit him with a metal bar.

Toomey said that his self-defense response to Finley's attack was to shoot him 12 times.

Neighbors called 911 to describe what they heard.

"It didn't sound like fireworks," one neighbor told an operator. "It just sounded pop, pop, pop."

After the shots were fired, Toomey's wife called police again.

"I wanted to make sure these police officers are on the way to my house," she said. "Oh, here they are. Oh God."

The suspect's family has claimed that Toomey used excessive force. Finley's aunt, Serena Miranda, said that the officer went way too far.

"One shot, maybe two to stop him, but 12?" Miranda said. "It's too much."

Investigators, however, found evidence of other attempted break-ins in the neighborhood, leaving tough questions on both sides.

Was the shooting justified? The investigation continues, but until that question is answered, Toomey will be working in what police called a non-sensitive position.

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