Suspect Mark T. Simmons has lengthy criminal history in Palm Beach County. Officer Clark violated multiple policies. Video of the stop released.
UPDATE: 2:57pm — FOP President John Cagno says the union stands behind Officer Clark and intends to arbitrate his firing.
BY: ANDREW COLTON, Editor/Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander took swift and decisive action firing Officer James Clark for shooting at a fleeing suspect — a black man accused of stealing a car.
According to Chief Alexander, Officer Clark reported that he issued verbal orders to the driver, but the dash cam video does not validate this claim.
Here is what Boca Police initially released in the hours after the incident:
On Thursday, October 16 at about 8:55 p.m., Boca Raton Police Officer James Clark stopped the driver of a stolen Honda on Camino Real near Federal Highway. Officer Clark approached the vehicle and began communicating with the driver. Officer Clark reported that the driver refused to comply with his commands.
While Officer Clark was in contact with the vehicle, the suspect sped away. During the encounter with the suspect, Officer Clark fired one shot, but the bullet did not strike the suspect. Officer Clark was not injured.
The suspect fled and later crashed the stolen vehicle in Deerfield Beach, where he fled on foot. Boca Raton Police officers, with the assistance of members of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, conducted an exhaustive search for the suspect without results.
Suspect Mark T. Simmons has a lengthy arrest and court record in Palm Beach County. He was just charged in May of this year with cocaine possession, resisting an officer, driving with a suspended license and grand theft auto. The grand theft auto charge was “no filed” by prosecutors. He was found guilty of burglary in February.
Photos of the bullet fired by Office Clark — lodged in the car’s headrest — show it came extremely close to Simmons’ head. Lethal force, Boca Raton Police officials say, should not have been used in this case.
Clark joined the Boca Raton Police department in 2008.
There was no immediate response from Boca Raton Police union president John Cagno.
If you are a fascinated by police procedure, we have obtained the five reports filed as part of the internal investigation into the officer’s actions. Read them in their entirety — with the exception of a few redactions — below.