Fired Beachwood Police officer fights for his job back

Fired Beachwood Police officer fights for his job back

BEACHWOOD, Ohio (WOIO) - A fired police officer is now fighting to get his job back.

19 News was first to report his termination from the Beachwood Police Department this week, more than a year and a half after he shot a shoplifter at a mall.

Now, the police union is appealing the city’s decision.

The officer’s attorney spoke exclusively with investigator Hannah Catlett.

“The whole thing is very baffling,” Attorney Lewis Zipkin said.

Zipkin is representing Officer Blake Rogers in a federal lawsuit against the Beachwood Police Department.

“Officer Rogers was the victim of all sorts of conduct that was inappropriate,” he said.

The suit alleges disagreements between Rogers and the city’s former chief of police began well before Rogers shot a shoplifting suspect at Beachwood Place in June of 2019.

“He was trying to protect the children and families that were subject to being run over by this felon that was fleeing,” Zipkin said about the 2019 shooting.

After the shooting, the city placed Rogers on paid administrative leave.

He sat on leave for nearly 20 months collecting nearly $100,000 a year, before Beachwood Police fired Rogers this Tuesday.

The department says Rogers violated use of force policies by using deadly force during the mall shooting incident.

“Officer Rogers is in total upset, because all he was doing was doing his job,” Zipkin said.

The Fraternal Order of Police is also fighting the department’s decision to terminate Officer Rogers saying “we find this firing and the process, or lack of such, to be outrageous.”

“If you are not allowed to shoot somebody who’s trying to drive over you, if that’s inappropriate, that’s got to be scary for every police officer trying to protect citizens,” Zipkin said.

Bigger picture though, we still want to know, why did it take so long for the city to make a decision on Roger’s employment.

And, how are city officials going to be sure future cases are handled in a way that doesn’t cost taxpayers so much?

Councilman Mike Burkons was elected to council after the shooting, but came to 19 News Investigators last summer when he found out Rogers was still sitting on paid leave-- a year after the shooting and nearly 10 months after the state’s investigation of the shooting itself was completed in October of 2019.

“If you are ever going to correct mistakes you have to acknowledge them,” he said. “Though I don’t think it’s my purview to weigh in on whether the determination of employment or whether the grand jury was right, it’s definitely my preview to say ‘why didn’t this employment review begin in October of ’19?’”

Burkons said in an interview last summer, “It might be the other agency’s purview whether anything else happens that’s completely separate from our responsibility to determine his employment status.”

In a follow up interview this week, Burksons said, “I said that in our interview months ago, I said that in two public council meetings and I’ll say it again today.”

A grand jury decided not to indict Rogers on criminal charges in this case last fall.

The police union fighting his termination points out that Rogers was still quote “needlessly kept on paid leave for four more months”

“That’s something that is totally baffling,” Zipkin said. “None of the conduct makes sense to us.”

On the day the city terminated Rogers, we also learned the city’s law director resigned.

She says she is taking another job elsewhere.

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