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TRUMBULL COUNTY Deputy who shot at vehicle appeals his firing by sheriff



Published: Wed, August 21, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state probed the officer's actions and gave a report to the county prosecutor.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A Trumbull County deputy sheriff thinks he should not be fired for shooting at a vehicle he was chasing.

Brian Kaintz was fired Monday and has appealed. A hearing was scheduled for today.

Sheriff Thomas Altiere fired Kaintz after an internal investigation into his actions during a pursuit June 26.

A letter titled "Notice to discipline," dated Monday, states that during the chase, the suspect, Christopher Rex, 26, of Warren-Burton Road, Southington, crashed.

"At the crash scene you fired 16 shots from your issued weapon," Altiere wrote, noting that this violated the department's policy on use of deadly force.

'Excessive force'

"I reviewed the internal investigation and the videotape that was on his cruiser at the time, and I believe his actions went beyond what a police officer should have done," Altiere said Tuesday.

"I feel what he did was excessive force."

Kaintz, 30, of Niles, who has worked for the department since 1998, could not be reached.

The sheriff noted that agents from the state Bureau of Identification and Investigation also were asked to investigate.

"My understanding is that BCI has completed the investigation and agents gave a report to the county prosecutor's office for review," Altiere said.

Prosecutor Dennis Watkins could not be reached.

Altiere said Kaintz will be allowed to explain his actions at today's hearing.

"After listening to what he says, I may come up with the same decision or I may change my mind," Altiere said.

Kaintz's report, which he filed a few hours after the pursuit, states that around 2:25 a.m. June 26 he saw a man driving 73 mph in a 55 mph zone on U.S. Route 422 in Southington.

Kaintz notes in the report that he tried to stop the vehicle, which exceeded 100 mph during the chase.

Seen on the tape

A review of the videotape from Kaintz's cruiser shows the man's vehicle traveling on U.S. Route 422 and then turning onto state Route 534. When the suspect gets to Doty East Road, he tries to turn right and hits a tree.

On the tape, Kaintz can be heard telling the man to stop. Kaintz cannot be seen on the tape.

The driver puts the car into reverse and backs into Kaintz's cruiser.

Kaintz can be heard yelling and then shots are fired. The suspect pulls forward and then reverses again before fleeing.

Kaintz fires several more shots and can be heard telling 911 dispatchers "shots fired." Houses can be seen in the area on the tape.

Officer's report

Kaintz's report states he got out of the vehicle and told the man to put up his hands. Kaintz also stated that the man "intentionally slammed into the patrol unit with force."

"Officer fired several rounds at the vehicle's rear tires in an attempt to neutralize the threat to this officer," the report states.

After the suspect fled, Kaintz called for his supervisor and continued to search.

About 20 minutes later, Kaintz and other officers went to Rex's home and arrested him on charges of DUI, driving under suspension, speed, failure to control, failure to comply and felonious assault.

Rex has pleaded innocent. A pretrial hearing is set for Sept. 26 in Newton Falls Municipal Court.

Personnel matters

A review of Kaintz's personnel file shows an April 2 entry in which his supervisors state "areas of concern" with his overall attitude, report writing and temper.

A review 60 days later states Kaintz had made improvement.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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