Well I've come to post an article that was in the Orlando Sentinel today. It is in reference to a shooting regarding a Clermont Police Office named James Rooney. If I remember correctly, wasn't Rooney and his wife one of the people protesting about corruption in the Clermont Police Department? Seems as if Mr. Rooney has either issues with his short term memory or issues with not being able to tell the truth. When it comes to a shooting where you "felt the bullet wiz by ", a gun battle,having a gun flush against your head. Oh wait.....the suspect NEVER shot at him. The only shot was the one the suspect put in his brain after Mr. (I have a hard time saying officer because that demands respect) Rooney shot at him, called 55 men for back up, pulled out the helicopters. Seems like none of this is true? Is it? Chief Broadway, I am asking you. Did James Rooney lie (and I assume filed a report) with incorrect information? Is our "town hero" merely have mental issues regarding memory or is he an out and out lying, corrupt, and just one more unbelievable officer on your force? It's not like it's the first time he's been questioned about ethics is it? I read an article in the Sentinel where he was in trouble with things previously but is now back on the force. I truly hope someone comes out of this story a hero. Sad to think it may be otherwise. When can citizens start believing in our officers again? So many good people put their lives on the line and you hear a tangle of lies and it gives all officers a bad name.
10:26 a.m. EDT, March 31, 2013
First of two parts
Two gunshots crackled through the city park across from Clermont Elementary School just as parents began picking up their children at the end of the day.
Then came yelling and three more blasts, witnesses later told investigators. A skinny guy in black gym shorts high-tailed it over a chain-link fence and raced off between houses.
Witnesses watched the suspect disappear as Clermont Officer James Rooney stood on DeSoto Street screaming into his radio — "He's got a gun!" and "Shots fired, Lake!" — along with a frantic request for emergency traffic only on the radio.
Backup officers swarmed toward him, and minutes later, a breathless Rooney told a lieutenant, "He shot at me!" At various times, Rooney described the suspect firing at him across a picnic table, then crouching and turning after dropping from the top of the fence around William McKinley Park and hitting the ground. Rooney told a detective he felt the "wind" from one of the bullets as it went zinging past his chest just under his raised right arm.
Despite Rooney's detailed descriptions, his account of this running gun battle with the suspect proved completely inaccurate. The only person shooting was Rooney.
Forensic analysis later would determine that suspect Joshua Waldron, 21, fired only one round that day — the one with which he took his own life as 55 law-enforcement officers with a helicopter and K-9 descended on Clermont to hunt him down, according to a report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The only bullets Rooney could have felt or heard were his own as he pumped round after round from his Glock 23 at the running Waldron, causing bullets to ricochet off trees near homes and leaving one in the driveway of an apartment building.
The purpose of FDLE's inquiry was limited to providing information for the state attorney to decide whether anyone should be charged with a crime in Waldron's death. That was easily settled: No one should. The troubled young man — also the father of a 3-year-old boy — clearly shot himself Dec. 11 as he sat under a tree about three blocks from the park, just minutes after his encounter with the officer.
But the investigation raised far more questions for Clermont than it answered.
What really happened between Rooney and the deceased remains unclear. FDLE agents didn't try to verify contradictory accounts from the officer and statements he made that don't jibe with the evidence, saying it's not their job to do so. They didn't even ask Rooney to explain what made him erroneously conclude he was being fired on, sometimes when the suspect was less than 6 feet away.
FDLE said it's up to Clermont to determine whether the officer told the truth, followed rules and acted properly when he approached Waldron in a public park. Indeed, Clermont must get to the bottom of what happened.
It's important not only because a man's death is directly connected with an officer's actions. It's also critical because the community has a right to evaluate its law enforcement and decide whether the sort of "protection" displayed by Rooney, who declined to be interviewed, is the kind this growing community wants.
Consider that the encounter ending in Waldron's death began when Rooney, according to his own statement, told Waldron he couldn't smoke in a public park. That was harassment of the type residents have complained about for years in Clermont. Rooney, a 12-year veteran of the department, should have known that smoking is perfectly legal in city parks. No placards banning smoking are posted in the pavilion where Waldron was smoking, either.
Does Clermont want officers spending time hassling people about smoking in public? Really?
Rooney said Waldron was "very nice" and extinguished the cigarette with an apology. That's where the encounter should have ended but didn't. Rooney demanded that Waldron provide identification and allow himself to be patted down. Then everything went haywire.
Rooney said Waldron struck him on his forehead with the barrel of a pistol he pulled from his waistband, and a split second later, held it to his head, where Rooney claims he heard a telltale click, nearly always the result of a misfire.
However, none of the officers involved mentioned in their statements any injuries on Rooney's forehead, and Clermont Police Chief Chuck Broadway said he didn't notice any. FDLE's regional counsel, David Margolis, said Rooney was taken to the hospital with an elevated heart rate before agents could photograph him. They also missed a second opportunity the next day, when he gave them a sworn statement.
Margolis said firearms experts in the FDLE lab couldn't find evidence backing Rooney's dramatic tale of being saved by a misfire. None of the bullets showed a strike mark where the hammer of the cheap Saturday night special that Waldron carried should have hit the bullet. A misfire without a mark isn't impossible, but gun experts say it's highly unlikely.
Sorting out the facts and using them to guide law enforcement toward a greater respect for Clermont citizens is the job entrusted to Broadway, the department's new chief and a former FDLE special agent.
So far, Broadway is ducking and shuffling.
He said last week that Rooney, 36, followed all city policies and that he wouldn't be investigating further. Case closed. The department's operational rules, however, call for an internal investigation with a written report to be filed.
On Thursday, Broadway said he hadn't understood the question and would be opening an internal investigation. But his enthusiasm for the task was feeble. He repeatedly explained away Rooney's imaginary gun battle by saying that an officer under stress could "spontaneously utter different things" rather than be able to describe events that actually occurred.
Asked whether Rooney's accounts conflicting with the evidence troubled him, Broadway replied that the officer was under oath. Then, he said reluctantly: "Well, I could ask FDLE about the misfire. I will ask them."
Lame. This situation calls for a thorough investigation, and Broadway must step up and lead it. It is his job and his responsibility to act on behalf of the public, not to invent excuses for his officers. If he cannot do that, he must step aside. Too many questions remain unanswered.
On Wednesday, we'll look at what's known — and unknown — about Waldron's death.
Copyright © 2013, Orlando Sentinel
Since when is it an agenda to seek and report the truth? A wise person once said "“The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.”(Ayn Rand). If there was no one to seek and report the truth how often would the truth be known? "Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action."(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe). Do not be ignorant. Praise is due to Ms. Ritchie for looking beyond the lies and finding the truth. Guest, is the the agenda you fear or the truth?
Today I read a very interesting and heartening vision statement. Chief Broadway, do you remember the pledge your made to the citizens of Clermont when you became the chief of police. As a reminder, read the Clermont Police Department Vision Statement:
The vision and mission of the Clermont Police Department is to enhance the quality of life in the City of Clermont by working cooperatively with the community to enforce the laws, prevent crime and reduce fear. Our mandate is to do so with incontestable integrity and honor, always conducting ourselves with the highest ethical standards to maintain public trust.
We will be an effective and efficient deterrent to crime in Clermont, united in our effort to make our City a better place to live and work. We will be a Department which carries out its responsibilities in a caring and courteous manner, always mindful of the dignity and human rights of all individuals. We will be a model law enforcement agency, accredited by the State. We are committed to rewarding our employees for creativity, hard work, and being responsive to the needs of our community. We will treat our employees and our citizens with dignity and respect, continually striving to meet their needs. We will operate with fiscal prudence as we effectively manage our resources, while providing the highest level of service and protection to our citizens.
Service Above Self
Chief Broadway, please do not reward your employee, James Rooney, for his "creativity" in regards to the incident with a dead citizen of your city. Show the respect and dignity through proceeding with an investigation into this incident. Remember, your core values. Integrity, honor, courage, professionalism and service above yourself and your employee James Rooney. You wanted the job and now you have it. Chief of Police in this wonderful town of Clermont. Now all the citizens want is for you to act like it and follow through on your promises, nay pledge, that you made when you got the position you wanted. A sign across from your office has said "Will the real chief of police please stand up?". Well I'm waiting for you to make your stand.
Dear Chief Broadway,
It is clear there is a way to find out if certain parts of James Rooney's wild tale is true. Is he the "hero" of the city? Test the DNA. If what Rooney's says is true his DNA is on the barrel of that gun. If not? Well then I guess we will then know the truth. Hero or villain? Is he a good officer or is the the dirtiest cop on your force? Mental defect or character defect? It's your job to find out.
Find below the second part of the article about an incident that occurred involving Clermont Police Officer James Rooney.
Second of two parts.
Joshua Waldron was no angel on earth.
But last fall, thanks to his medication, his mother had been celebrating the return of the cheerful boy she remembered — just before she lost him for good at the age of 21.
Joshua Waldron at his graduation from East Ridge High School in Clermont.
Clermont must get to bottom of shooting by police officer in park
Waldron, the father of a 3-year-old son, took his own life as law-enforcement officers swarmed into Clermont because they thought he had been in a gun battle with an officer there.
Forensic analysis by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement showed that the only bullet Waldron fired that December day was the one that killed him. The only person shooting in the firefight described by Clermont police Officer James Rooney was Rooney himself.
Sunday's column detailed tests and sworn witness statements that cast more doubt on the wild story that Officer Rooney told. He claimed that Waldron struck him in the forehead with the barrel of a Saturday night special and then held the pistol to the officer's head, where Rooney heard the telltale click of a misfire.
State firearms analysts couldn't find any evidence of a misfire, though, and no agents or other officers mentioned injuries to Rooney's forehead.
Waldron was found shot within minutes of Rooney's approaching him in William McKinley Park, across from Clermont Elementary School, to inform Waldron that he wasn't allowed to smoke — even though smoking in public parks in Clermont is perfectly legal. Waldron's death was later ruled a suicide.
FDLE's inquiry was limited to providing information to determine whether a crime was committed, and the State Attorney's Office ruled there was not.
Now, it's up to Clermont police Chief Chuck Broadway to determine whether Rooney told the truth, followed department rules and acted properly. Broadway is planning to open an internal investigation, but he seems less than enthusiastic about it. Perhaps that's because Rooney and his backers succeeded in running off the previous police chief when he stood up to their unprofessional behavior.
But the public trust should rise above politics. Ensuring that the city's police officers are honest and that they treat people with respect is Broadway's job. If the chief can't or won't do a thorough inquiry, he should ask the Sheriff's Office to handle it.
Clermont needs to investigate because Rooney, who dramatically changed his story about the shooting within 24 hours, has a history of untruthfulness.
Consider that the officer was fired and arrested on charges of petty theft and forgery in 2005 for signing a doctor's note so that he could collect holiday pay. The physician declined to testify in court, so the charges were dropped and Rooney was reinstated.
Now Rooney, who declined to be interviewed, is telling differing stories about the incident in the park. On Dec. 11, Rooney gave specific accounts of Waldron's firing repeatedly at him. He even told one detective he felt "the wind" from one of the bullets. But on Dec. 12, in a sworn statement to an FDLE agent, Rooney variously said he "thought" Waldron fired and that he "believed" the suspect pulled the trigger.
"There's no doubt in my mind he wanted me dead," Rooney said in his sworn statement to FDLE. "He was out to kill me."
Really? With what? Evidence shows it wasn't with the weapon he was carrying.
Is a person who vividly describes a nonexistent gunfight, and then backs off his story, fit to serve as a police officer? Should an officer who cannot hit his target after firing an undetermined number of rounds — by his own account at least two from less than six feet away — be back on the street without additional firearms training?
Among other unanswered questions from the FDLE report:
•Rooney stated that Waldron admitted having a marijuana cigarette, called a blunt, in his pocket. A "green leafy substance" was collected as part of the evidence but was never tested to determine what it was.
•Lab technicians were able to get a small amount of DNA from the gun that killed Waldron. They determined it came from a male — but they ruled out Waldron as that man. So whose DNA was it? Does it indicate that someone else had a role in Waldron's death?
Family members said they were certain immediately that Waldron hadn't fired at the officer. He didn't have it in him, they said.
He had "given up" in high school, but his mother and grandmother fought to keep him in class. At 19, he graduated from East Ridge High School in Clermont — a moment his mother described as one of the two proudest of his life. The other was the birth of his son, Dasan.
Waldron worked when he could get jobs but was unemployed at the time of his death. Shortly before, he had begun taking medication to help with depression and emotional troubles.
"He was back to eating, back to smiling, back to sleeping — back to being Josh," said his mother, Tina Hobson, 49. "He saw his son almost every day. That boy was his world."
She said she didn't know Waldron was carrying a gun when he went to the park to wait for his son to come out of a nearby day care. But she said he told her that a man had been threatening him, and he was afraid. A note in Waldron's handwriting, dated the day he died, advised police to consider the man as "the main suspect" if Waldron were killed.
However, that man was not in McKinley Park the day Waldron died. Rooney was.
And within minutes of their encounter, Waldron was found face up, sprawled underneath a big oak in woods about three blocks from the park, one bullet in his brain. Twelve hours later, his family took him off life support and donated his organs, saving what they were told was four lives, including that of a 7-year-old dying of liver failure.
In Waldron's pocket, police found a disposable camera. His mother said his plan for that afternoon had been to snap family photographs of himself and his son at the park where he, too, had played as a child. No pictures had been taken.
Lritchie@tribune.com. Lauren invites you to send her a friend request on Facebook at facebook.com/laurenonlake.
Why never an negative article on the LCSO, nothing on the pizza kid the K-9 guy shot, an article on Borders opponent's code violation during the last election but nothing on the LT from the county who bought his kid a computer on the county credit card and paid it out of sheriff funds then gets to retire with a pension?? I'm not saying the Clermont cop should not be investigated but what's up with the head in the sand sheriff's office agenda?
The incident in Clermont wasn't given a fair investigation. I feel for the family because they have many unanswered questions. Hopefully Broadway will do his job! Rooney is for sure a questionable cop!!! It appears theres a lot of questionable cops in Clermont. Lauren did a great job in her articles but it still didn't get to the bottom of what really happened. Nor will we ever know because the investigation isn't being done. No matter what a young man is dead and a cop told lies and got away with it. May he sleep at night knowing he didn't tell the truth!! Someone in the department should speak up because there are probably a couple that know exactly what happened.
Ahhh yes he was another, "fine young man who had finally turned his life around and becoming a great family man", because all "FINE YOUNG FAMILY MEN GO TO A PARK AND SMOKE WEED". You're as big a POS as Lauren Richtie and the dirtbag who's dead.
Remember~ what you say about others... actually says a lot more about YOU! Truth be known reports have shown that his toxicology screen was NEGATIVE along with the others that he has had over the last two years. As you read in the article the so called blunt was NEVER tested wonder why that is? Lauren is great at finding out the truth. Her article hits it right on. Theres more to the imaginary gun fight. No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, people can change. Oh thats right your perfect you have never made mistakes in your life. Don't ever use somebody's past against them. We ALL have pasts. Who are you to judge the life they lived...nobody is perfect including you!!There are 3 sides to every story... 1-How one person tells it 2- How the other person tells it 3- How it REALLY happened. People only lie because they cant handle the truth;they lie because they cant face the mistakes they have made. It's crazy how we find the lies so easy to believe, but we can almost never seem to believe the truth.Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see. Words can come as quick as lies, and what you see can easily be mistaken for something it's not.Have a great day!I pray for the family who lost this young man no matter what because losing someone is always painful!!!
Lauren it appears that guest has an issue with you investigating and reporting the truth, or trying to get questions that need to be answered.Or is he afraid the truth will come out... Because no one has the balls to stand up and say we want answers. Guest its people like you that hide behind the computer and make comments about what you have read in the newspaper or heard on television without knowing the whole truth.Media isnt always fair to the stories they run. Amazing how you just assume that I am a pos along with lauren, and the young man who is deceased. How do you know that? Just from what you have read or heard? You resort to calling names, how old are we? In my opinion and thats just my opinion the officer should be investigated, the young man did have a past but if I read right he was turning his life around. Everyone makes mistakes. My heart goes out to the little boy that lost his father. OR ARE YOU JUST THAT COLD HEARTED TOO? Or could you be speaking of the young man as a dirt bag because you know him, maybe guest is rooney making posts or a rooney buddy.Either way THANK YOU LAUREN I love reading your articles I look forward to them. Keep up the great job!! Keep asking those questions that need to be asked.
Toxicology reports..where is your FACTUAL basis for the results?
The so called blunts were blacks and milds no drugs at all. His personal toxicology report negative negative negative. Rooney smelled dope not....he's just a dirty cop. He will get his when the truth comes out about how dirty he is guest is a rooney fan or is guest really rooney.
Why was this kid with a criminal history in a public park by a school carrying a gun in the first place? There's multiple statements of people stating he turned his life around, yet he was in possession of this gun? Also I read statements that he was scared of someone which is why he had the gun? Of every person who was scared of someone carried a gun I think we'd have a lot of gun carrying citizens. Just because you're scared it doesn't give you the right to illegally carry a firearm. Considering he doesn't have a permit he was not trained to use it correctly, what if he was confronted by this so called person who was threatening him that day in the park and a shoot out occurred with kids around? All these people complaining that he shoul have never been confronted would be saying different things if their kid would have accidentally been caught in the crossfire of that wouldn't they. Cops confront suspicious people to try to prevent aituations like that. When officer Rooney confronted him, the whole situation could have been avoided if he would have calmly told the officer he was carrying a firearm. But obviously that didn't happen. Any on duty police officer has the right to confront someone at any time. They also have the right to ask to search. There was nothing wrong with this officer confronting this kid in the park.
People are saying officer Rooney lied about the kid shooting at him, and say that results show only one shot was fired from the kids weapon. Who's to say he didn't fire multiple shots and run out of bullets and reload? Considering the amount of wooded area/yards/streets he ran through those fired bullets would be hard to recover. Then regardless if the kid fired or not he pulled the gun out on a cop, and anyone who's in fear for their life his the right to defend themselves, which the officer did. I don't understand the issue.
If you issue is with the fact that the officer may or may not have changed his story of the events that took place, then you obviously haven't been in a situation like that. You're fearful for your life, you heart is pumping, everything happens so sat when you finally get a chance to stop and retrace the events things may not be so clear. Later on different parts may come back to you.
Regardless, people are so quick to judge and question every little decision cops make. They pick apart every step of every decision. It's not fair for the officer or the kid or family of the kid for anyone of you to judge or jump straight to what you "know" happened. The only people who know for sure what happened are the officer an the kid. half the people in the world have this stupid idea that cops enjoy shooting and killing people and you're all idiots. And most of your "facts" are coming from newspaper articles, or reporter Lauren Ritchie who has a personal vendetta against certain officers in this department including officer Rooney it seems. I'd say her opinion is biased, and can't be considered as fact.
I am a firm believer that cops often get the short end of the stick. We never like one until we need one. I believe that police officers are very brave men and women who put their lives on the line everyday they get into their uniform. I believe they deserve respect. My issue is the with cops like Rooney who thing they are untouchable because they have been returned to their position. Yes an officer has the right to "ask" to search a subject just as the subject has a right to say "no". An illegal search is one that occurs without proper cause. Let's find out how many of these "searches" Rooney has demanded since his return to the police force. Rooney is without a doubt a proven liar. He thinks he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants because he was a part of the lynch mob, which included Charlene Forth, that ousted Graham and the City Manager. The only way I can explain it is when you let a bully loose you will eventually have to suffer the consequences. Rooney is a bully. He is a bully to members of the police staff and he is a bully to those in the city who he thinks are not allowed the basic human rights any man, woman or child is given under the constitution. He thinks he is above everyone and any law. Many people have made mistakes in their past. Why does he think it's ok to harass them when they try to reclaim their lives and become a constructive member of society? Because he's the big bad James Rooney? Because the people that he considers "dirt bags" won't be believed or have anyone stand up for them? Both the Chief of Police and the City Manager have created a monster. Who runs the police force? Is it Broadway or is it Rooney? Who runs the city? Is it Darren Gray or is it Charlene Forth? Hey Charlene how does it feel now that all of your backers are backing away from you? Take note Rooney...you can only bully people so long before they start pushing back. Let's see Charlene...your husbands sign once said "Will the real Chief of Police please stand up?" Well Rooney may think he's running things but they day is coming when every illegal search, every illegal stop, every illegal piece of paper you sign and lie one will be exposed. I can't wait to see you get what you deserve. It's going to happen. It's only a matter of time and I will be standing outside the City Council meeting with a sign that says "Investigate Corruption of James Rooney and his flunkies at the Clermont Police Department".
Classify every member of this agency as, "flunkies", but yet you claim you, "am a firm believer that cops often get the short end of the stick. We never like one until we need one. I believe that police officers are very brave men and women who put their lives on the line everyday they get into their uniform. I believe they deserve respect". You are too damn stupid to even see how you showed your bias for the Clermont Police Department. But yet you expect readers to take you serious???
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