Aurora officer pleads guilty in connection to Florida road rage incident

Officer Joe LaPerna, Aurora Police Department

AURORA, Ohio — A disciplinary hearing is scheduled for next week for the Aurora police officer who pleaded guilty in Florida to a misdemeanor charge in connection with a road rage incident.

Aurora Police Chief Brian Byard told FOX 8 that Officer Joseph LaPerna had been placed on unpaid administrative in March, immediately after the incident.

Byard said the disciplinary hearing could not be held until the criminal case was completed.  LaPerna pleaded guilty to the charge in a Florida courtroom Thursday and was placed on probation.

According to a press release from authorities, troopers responded to a highway violence incident on southbound I-75 March 2.

“Through the course of the resulting investigation, troopers determined that LaPerna was driving a 2018 Chevrolet near a 2018 Toyota Corolla on southbound I-75. LaPerna and the occupants of the Toyota became involved in a road rage incident,” the release states. “During the incident, LaPerna brandished a firearm (Glock 43) at the occupants of the Toyota. Laperna was stopped by responding troopers and Collier County Deputies on Pine Ridge Road near Seagate Drive in Naples. LaPerna was placed under arrest for aggravated assault and improper exhibit of a firearm and transported to the Lee County Jail.”

LaPerna has been an officer in Aurora for more than 20 years.

According to his personnel file, he was disciplined several times in the past, including being fired in May 2006 after an off duty road rage incident involving himself and a resident. The police union fought the termination and he was reinstated.

In the other incident, occurring in December 2017, LaPerna was disciplined and required to forfeit holiday pay as a result of poor decision making involving a traffic stop with an elderly resident.

Continuing coverage, here.

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