CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Beachwood police officer who shot a shoplifting suspect in a mall parking lot has been fired from the force.
Officer Blake Rogers was notified of his immediate termination from the Beachwood Police Department in a letter from the city on Monday.
Rogers, who was hired by Beachwood in 2013, is accused of violating several departmental policies, including those related to the use of force, conduct and ethics.
On June 27, 2019, the officer opened fire on a 19-year-old who was accused of stealing from Beachwood Place.
The suspect was shot twice, according to his attorney. His injuries were not life-threatening.
The city said Rogers was “not entirely honest and forthcoming” about the shooting and questioned his use of deadly force “against the shoplifter of a $60 hat with bystanders in close proximity.”
Police dash cameras recorded the officer firing his gun through the driver side window of a vehicle driven by the suspect, Jaquan Jones, as he attempted to flee the parking lot.
The video also shows families with young children just steps away from Rogers and Jones at the time of the shooting.
Rogers said he shot Jones because he felt “overwhelmingly terrified” that he was “about to be run over by the suspect and killed.” He wrote in his report that he hesitated to fire his gun at first because he saw a family nearby.
Jones is currently in prison after pleading guilty to charges in connection with the Beachwood Place incident and other unrelated crimes.
Following the June 2019 shooting, Rogers was placed on paid administrative leave.
Records show Beachwood continued to pay the officer his annual salary of more than $90,000 plus benefits while on leave as state investigators worked to determine if the shooting was justified.
He never returned to work.
Both members of Beachwood City Council and Rogers’ attorney criticized the length of shooting investigation.
“His career has been put on hold,” attorney Kimberly Kendall Corral told 19 News during an interview last August. She said Rogers was anxious to get back to work but suffered an injury when Jones allegedly drove over his foot.
Rogers needs surgery to repair ligaments in his foot and ankle and also suffers PTSD as a result of the incident at Beachwood Place, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the officer and his wife, Jacalyn, in November.
The lawsuit claims Rogers was “ready, willing and able to perform light duty work” but that the police department “wrongfully refused to accommodate and reinstate him.”
The Rogers’ lawsuit also accuses city leaders of disability discrimination and “reverse racial discrimination,” and says Beachwood failed to promote the officer as retaliation for going on leave when his wife gave birth.
Rogers also claims to have suffered a “tangible loss of employment opportunities” over statements made about the mall shooting by Beachwood City Council President James Pasch.
19 Investigates dug deeper into Rogers’ background and uncovered a history of use of force incidents and questionable pursuits.
In 2017, a supervisor wrote that he “noted a pattern of policy violations and unsafe behavior” with the officer and said, “This behavior may be a careless disregard for policy or Ptl. Rogers could be experiencing “tunnel vision” while engaged in stressful/emergency type calls.”
The supervisor also wrote, “By his own admission, Ptl. Rogers takes it personally when the “bad guy” gets away.”
Last October, after a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined charge the officer for the mall shooting, the city said Beachwood’s new police chief, Kelly Stillman, reviewed BCI’s files on shooting along with city policies and Rogers’ pre-incident files.
Beachwood charged Rogers with eight rule violations, including four sections of Beachwood Police Department’s use of force policy.
He was also charged with “committing unsafe acts or endangering self or others,” “dishonesty or untruthfulness,” and for violating the city’s ethics policy.
Rogers had a pre-disciplinary hearing on Feb. 18.
“You were notified that all discipline was on the table - from reprimand to termination - depending upon what information you might present,” Beachwood Mayor and Safety Director Martin Horwitz wrote in Rogers’ termination letter.
“When offered the floor, you did not present any new evidence or information,” wrote Horwitz.
Instead, the mayor said a representative for Rodgers maintained that the officer was “not guilty of the charges and did nothing wrong.”
Rogers was found guilty of all the departmental charges against him.
Horwitz said the evidence against the officer did not support is arguments.
“Instead, the evidence demonstrates you failed to properly perform your duties as it relates to the officer involved shooting on June 27, 2019 and were not entirely honest and forthcoming about the shooting,” Horwitz wrote.
The mayor also determined Rogers’ use of deadly force against Jones with people, including children, nearby violated city policies.
“Your arguments are contradicted by the video evidence and third-party witnesses,” wrote Horwitz.
19 News has reached out to Rogers’ representatives regarding his termination.
A representative for Beachwood said the city would not provide further comment on Rogers because of his lawsuit.