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Cleveland police officer fired for violating use of force policy in fatal 2015 shooting

Posted at 9:58 AM, Dec 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 17:25:32-05

A Cleveland police officer who was acquitted on charges in connection with shooting an unarmed teen in 2015 has been fired by the city.

According to officials, Officer Alan Buford was terminated from his position on Thursday.

City officials said Buford's termination came as a result of the officer violating the department's use of force policies. An internal investigation was conducted by Public Safety Director Michael McGrath who found that Buford violated the department's use of force policy "by using force greater than what was necessary during the incident."  

Buford was previously charged by a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury with negligent homicide for fatally shooting 18-year-old Brandon Jones outside a Parkwood Avenue store on March 19, 2015, court documents say. Police said Jones was burglarizing the corner store and charged at officers.

Jones' family released the following statement about Buford's firing:

On behalf of Brandon’s family, we are thankful that the City of Cleveland is making Officer Buford accountable for this avoidable tragedy.  We hope the City of Cleveland continues to reform its police department consistent with the Justice Department findings and recommendations.  This is an important step towards justice and a step closer to the City of Cleveland making things right with Brandon Jones’ family and loved ones.

Buford was acquitted of the charges in court earlier this year.

Buford had been with the department since 1996, officials said.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association attorney Henry Hilow said the termination was unjustified and they're already working toward getting Buford back on the force.

"I guarantee he'll get his job back," Hilow said.

Lynn Hampton, president of the Black Shield Police Association, said they will do whatever they can to support Buford, including holding fundraisers. 

"We can all look at and analyze with 20/20 hindsight, but you have to put yourself in the position of what's going on, what the officer perceived at that given moment, and once we do that, we see that Officer Buford did what he had to do," Hampton said. 

The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association released the following statement regarding the city's decision to fire Buford:

In yet another unwarranted attack on its police officers, the City of Cleveland has discharged Patrol Officer Alan Buford effective today. Officer Buford has 21 years of dedicated service to the citizens of Cleveland. The March 19, 2015 incident for which Officer Buford has been discharged was also the subject of a misdemeanor trial. Officer Buford was acquitted of all the charges against him —demonstrating that he acted within the appropriate legal standards governing officer conduct. Apparently, the City believes it is somehow fair and just to fire an officer who was acting within the limits required by law. The CPPA vehemently disagrees that there is anything fair or just about this discharge. The CPPA is convinced that this discharge is motivated entirely by other considerations such as pending civil litigation and to appease the Department of Justice. The suffering of Officer Buford and his family is nothing compared to checking off the boxes in the consent decree. 
A grievance has been filed today contesting the City's action and the CPPA will be seeking arbitration as soon as possible. 

Jones' family has filed a lawsuit against the city and the officers. The civil case is currently pending.