*WARNING: Some viewers may find this video disturbing*
CLEVELAND – The FOX 8 I-Team obtained exclusive body camera video showing Cleveland police shooting a robbery suspect, who was fleeing from the scene.
It happened at about 4 a.m. Aug. 11 when officers pulled over a vehicle on Puritas Avenue. The driver was wanted for robbery.
“Drop the gun now,” the officers can be heard screaming on the body camera video.
Justin Damato, who had just been released from prison in June, got out of the vehicle with his hands up. His cell phone drops and he bolts. Officer John Kazimer fires his weapon, saying he saw the suspect turn with a pistol in his hand.
Kazimer’s partner did not shoot at the suspect.
“I did not fire. I did not see the gun until it dropped from his waist band,” the partner is heard saying on the body camera video.
The suspect was shot in the ankle and stomach.
Family members of Damato’s say they are concerned about a part of the shooting. They said they believe Damato was down, but another gun shot was fired.
Kazimer is heard later in the video explaining the shooting.
“He dropped the gun. He turned he fell. He went for the gun,” Kazimer said.
Police Union President Steve Loomis said he believe the officer acted properly.
“Absolutely. Armed robber, high speed with a gun. Absolutely justified, absolutely,” Loomis said.
Loomis pointed out that Kazimer provided first aid to Damato after the shooting.
“This young man is lucky this particular officer was involved in it because he did have extensive medical training coming from EMS and provided first aid. He probably saved his life,” Loomis said.
Damato pleaded guilty in November to numerous charges, including robbery. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Police administrators review all officer-involved shootings and are currently looking at this case. It is not known how much longer it will take for the review to be complete.
Meanwhile, Damato’s family is considering possible legal action and talking to a civil rights attorney.