October 2, 2014

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Internet photo of shooter corpse was taken by policeman

CLEVELAND — A photo posted on the Internet showing the bloodied, lifeless body of a teenage gunman was taken by a police officer at the high school where the boy shot four people and then killed himself, a city official said.

Patrolman Walter Emerick, who responded to the Oct. 10 shooting at SuccessTech Academy, admitted he took the photo of 14-year-old Asa Coon using a cell phone camera, Safety Director Martin Flask said.

The photo, which shows Coon lying on his back with blood pooled around his head, was posted on a Web site a few days later. The city launched an investigation to determine who was responsible.

Emerick, a 12-year veteran of the police force, sent the photo to other people, but he did not post the picture on the Internet, Flask said Friday.

The incident remains under investigation, and Flask said a disciplinary hearing could be held for Emerick. Flask said he is disappointed that a police officer would exchange the photo of a crime scene.

A phone listing for Emerick in Cleveland was disconnected on Saturday. Attempts to reach him through the Cleveland police department were unsuccessful.

Coon was a troubled, angry youth who had been suspended for fighting days before he returned to the school and opened fire. The shooting victims — two students and two teachers — survived.

Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland police union, said the union doesn’t condone a crime scene photo being posted on the Internet. But officers have legitimate reasons to take pictures of crime scenes in order to recall what they saw, he said.

Many people, he said, were still in the school that day and the scene was not secure when Emerick took the picture.