City of Beachwood appeals order to re-hire police officer who shot shoplifter

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 11:16 PM EDT
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BEACHWOOD, Ohio (WOIO) - The City of Beachwood is fighting back after an arbitrator ordered the city to hire back a police officer who was originally fired for shooting a shoplifting suspect.

The city finally made a decision and fired Officer Blake Rogers last year.

Then the Fraternal Order of Police helped Rogers sue the city.

That’s when the arbitrator ruled in Rogers’ favor and ordered the city to give him his job back.

The hearing at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse Monday happened because city officials appealed the arbitrator’s decision, fighting for the right to terminate Officer Rogers once and for all.

Barry Freeman is representing the City of Beachwood in the matter.

“You cannot reinstate a police officer who is dishonest in his job,” he said.

Douglas Behringer is the attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police representing Rogers.

I didn’t know how he lied. they said, ‘oh, watch the video.’ Well, what does that mean? If you are claiming he lied. Tell us what the dishonesty is,” Behringer said.

Dash camera video from June of 2019 shows the day Officer Rogers shot a man accused of stealing a hat from Dillard’s.

In the latest court filing, the city says Rogers “hunted” the fleeing shoplifter and says, “For years, Officer Rogers declared his willingness to continue violating policies and deal with consequences later - so the “bad guy” doesn’t get away.”

Then, the city calls Rogers a “trigger-happy, dishonest police officer.”

19 Investigates was first to uncover that the officer was on paid leave for more than a year before the city made a decision about his employment status.

“[The city said] there was an investigation repeatedly, but we never saw it. They wouldn’t give it to us. And then they said they didn’t use that investigation. So, I have no idea what they actually did. Their story changed so dramatically and repeatedly,” Behringer said.

State investigators presented the findings in the 2019 shooting to a grand jury last year.

The grand jury declined to press criminal charges against Officer Rogers.

So, how does all of what’s going on in civil court now impact those that live in the community?

The bottom line-- it’s more taxpayer money going to a fight that may have been avoided had the city acted differently after the shooting.

The judge will review Monday’s hearing discussion and make a decision on the appeal in the weeks to come.

Rogers has a separate lawsuit against the City of Beachwood pending in federal court.

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