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Officer fired over deadly 2012 police chase speaks out

CLEVELAND - Former Cleveland Police Officer Freddy Diaz has a difficult time talking about the November 28, 2012 police chase and shooting.

"It's horrific, I don't want to relive it, I don't want to think about it but it is always going to be enbedded in my heart and my mind," Diaz told the Fox 8 I-Team.

The chase and shooting left two suspects, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, dead.

"It is a horrible experience, having the fear," Diaz recalled.

The police chasing the suspects thought the two had fired a shot at a police officer. The chase ended in East Cleveland and 13 officers fired their guns that night.

Diaz fired first, when he saw the suspects' car coming toward him.

Six officers were fired including Diaz.

He says telling his wife of 15 years and his three children that he was no longer employed was difficult.

"It was heartbreaking, I held back tears," Diaz said.

City officials said Diaz was found guilty of several administrative charges including failure to request permission to join the pursuit.

Union leaders and Diaz were stunned.

"Never had a complaint, never been disciplined, never," Diaz said.

The union even said city officials praised him during his disciplinary hearing .

The Fox 8 I-Team obtained transcripts from that hearing.

"He's on the promotional list,  and we also considered him for assignment to the financial crimes unit," said Commander James Chura during the hearing.   "I think he's actually probably a Cleveland  success story, coming from the projects and making something out of himself instead of remaining in the projects."

And the Director of Public Service Michael McGrath stated the following during the hearing:

"I also know that this is a very tragic event. It's  not something that any of us wanted to happen, but I do know that when you get promoted it will serve you well throughout the rest of your career,  that I do know," McGrath said.

City officials would not discuss Diaz's case with us since it is being appealed.

Diaz, the son of a missionary, grew up in the projects in Cleveland. He says his background serves him well because he understands not having enough food or money. He often would buy Happy Meals for children, and never went to work without his box, filled with stickers and badges for kids.

Diaz says a few years ago when he was trying to decide his career path, his wife, who decorated cakes, go a magazine from the year he was born, 1981. The picture inside showed him all he needed to know: it was a police officer cake and it said "Officer Freddy."

When asked if he wanted to return to the force, this was his answer.

"It's my calling, Peggy," Diaz said.   "This is my success story, this is my dream."

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the six who lost their jobs. You can click here to head to that page.