The Fort Worth Police Officers Association on Tuesday blasted the termination of an officer for firing her gun at a fleeing felon's car and accused the chief of rushing an investigation so the officer could not appeal.
Officer Lina Mino, a rookie, was fired by Chief Joel Fitzgerald on Friday. The department released a statement on the officer's termination.
"The Fort Worth Police Department has an established policy prohibiting officers from employing deadly force by shooting into vehicles unless the vehicle poses an immediate threat to that officer (or someone else)," the statement said. "In this instance, the vehicle slowly drove away from the officer and posed no immediate threat to the officer."
Sgt. Manny Ramirez, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers' Association, said the internal investigation was done in record time so that Mino would not have the right to appeal.
"This termination will serve no other purpose than to send a message throughout our police department that hard work and integrity do not outweigh political expediency," Ramirez said.
Mino would have ended her one-year probationary period just seven hours after she was fired. Since she was still a probationary officer, she does not have the right to appeal, Ramirez said.
While most internal investigations take about 90 days, Mino was fired after just five days, he said.
The officer had pulled over a car in North Fort Worth on April 7 and discovered the driver was wanted on a felony warrant, Ramirez said.
After Mino fired at the vehicle, the suspects ran into a nearby house and the family inside ran to safety, he said.
The driver was arrested and a loaded gun was later found in their car, Ramirez said.
"In any other circumstance Officer Mino would have been issued a commendation," Ramirez said.
But Mino violated department policy by accidentally shooting at the fleeing car, he said.
Ramirez declined to say what he thinks an appropriate punishment would be but he criticized the process as being unfair because the officer isn't able to appeal.
The department stood by its decision.
"The misapplication of deadly force has been a serious issue in law enforcement," the statement said. "Our Police Department considers the use of force, specifically deadly force, a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly."