BOCA RATON COP SHOOTS AT FLEEING BLACK MAN, IS FIRED

Suspect Mark T. Simmons has lengthy criminal history in Palm Beach County. Officer Clark violated multiple policies. Video of the stop released.

James Clark

Boca Raton Police Officer James Clark has been fired by the Boca Raton Police Department.

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.

Acting on the results of a complex eight month investigation, the department says Clark violated multiple policies after stopping the vehicle on Camino Real near Federal Highway. Video and documents released by Boca Raton Police show Officer Clark approaching the suspect vehicle before backup arrived, drawing his weapon and using it to knock on the window, firing at the suspect who ultimately fled and engaging in a high speed pursuit. All are violations of Boca Raton policy.

boca police shooting headrest

Bullet hole in headrest, courtesy Boca Raton Police.

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.

police shooting boca raton

Trajectory of the bullet, courtesy Boca Raton Police.

Here is what Boca Police initially released in the hours after the incident:

FIRST WITHOn 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.

Mark Simmons

Mark Simmons, Courtesy Palm Beach County Jail.

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.

Report 1. 

Report 2. 

Report 3.

Report 4.

Report 5.