CLEVELAND-- Family and friends of Trooper Kenneth Velez were clearly distraught by Thursday's verdict: A Cuyahoga County jury found Joshua Gaspar not guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular homicide, driving under the influence and tampering with records.
Multiple Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers were inside the courtroom with family and friends of Velez.
Immediately after the verdict, they left the courthouse, clearly distraught and disappointed by the outcome.
“It’s devastating,” said AJ Torres, a retired trooper and Kenny's best friend. “The whole community is upset; the family is upset.”
Torres chose not to attend the court proceedings, not wanting to relive the tragedy, but learned of the verdict within minutes.
“I went into this with an open mind; justice system didn’t work for us, “ said Torres.
However, Torres says Velez was a hero, and will always be remembered as one of the best in law enforcement.
In the 11 months since the tragic accident, loved ones have been working hard on securing a lasting legacy for the 48-year-old trooper, who was outside of his cruiser on I-90 in Cleveland when he was hit last September.
It was the idea of Kenny’s three surviving children, to say thank you and raise scholarship money for others.
“They said, you know, the community’s been so outstanding to us; we want to show that we appreciate everything they’ve done for my dad,” said Torres.
As for Gaspar, Torres says they’re working on forgiveness and just hoping their friend didn’t die in vain.
“He’s been through the system already a couple times,” said Torres. “ Hopefully he can do something positive for society, step up to the plate.”