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Louisville Mayor Fires Police Chief

March 3, 2000 GMT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Mayor Dave Armstrong fired the city’s police chief over an awards ceremony that included honors to two officers for their actions the night they shot a black teen-ager to death.

Armstrong announced his decision Thursday night after meeting with Chief Gene Sherrard for 2 1/2 hours. He said Sherrard violated his trust by approving the awards a month ago but waiting until this week to tell the mayor about them.

A police chief should be ``forthright when it comes to information that it is essential to my leading this city,″ Armstrong said.

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Officers Chris Horn and Paul Kinkade, who are white, shot 18-year-old Desmond Rudolph on May 13 as he was attempting to flee in a stolen vehicle that had become stuck in an alley. Rudolph died four days later.

Police fired 22 rounds into the vehicle, saying they feared Rudolph was going to run them down. The shooting sparked outrage in the black community.

The two officers were among several officers given the Exceptional Valor Award at a ceremony Wednesday. Kim Kraeszig, a police spokeswoman, said the two were honored not for shooting Rudolph but for surviving a situation where there was imminent danger.

But the mayor called the decision to honor them ``premature and insensitive, and I cannot condone this action.″

A grand jury cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing, but a follow-up investigation by Public Safety Director Col. Ronald A. Ricucci outlined numerous errors by Horn, Kinkade and others.

According to the report, the two officers failed to secure the stolen vehicle before knocking on the door where Rudolph was staying. Officers also failed to cover the back entrance, where he made his escape that led to the shooting.

The firing Thursday touched off a whirlwind of anger among police officers. They converged en masse at police headquarters to rally around their departing chief.

Officer Rick McCubbin, president of the Louisville Fraternal Order of Police, said Sherrard has earned the respect and admiration of the rank and file, and officers didn’t understand what he had done wrong.