Akron: U of Akron once fired officer involved in deadly shooting

5:56 PM, May 17, 2013   |    comments
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AKRON -- The police officer involved in Thursday's deadly shooting of a driver during a traffic stop was once fired by the University of Akron.

Channel 3 News has learned the officer is 10-year-veteran Aaron Burnette.

U of A fired Burnette after a 2009 arrest of an armed suspect, claiming he used excessive force by kneeing the handcuffed prisoner.

An arbitrator viewed surveillance video of the incident and found no evidence of abuse. Burnette was reinstated.

Burnette stopped James Genda, 64, Thursday after discovering that the plates on the car he was driving did not match its registration.

A police report says Genda gave Burnette false identification and, when Burnette approached the car a second time, he saw Genda with a gun and opened fire.

Radio transmissions have him calling "shots fired, shots fired,"

By phone, Genda's daughter Michelle Harbaugh called her dad "a good man, but not perfect."

She said Harbaugh made his living fixing old cars and selling them.

He has more than 80 Akron Muny Court violations dating back to 1990. Many are for driving with improper license plates.

Harbaugh said Genda had survived five heart attacks and recently began carrying a pellet gun after he was mugged.

She said Genda was on the phone with his sister as the incident unfolded. She claimed her aunt works in the Main Post Office located within sight of where the shooting happened in the 600 block of Wolf Ledges Parkway and both saw and heard the incident.

The aunt declined a requested interview.

Harbaugh says her aunt said she heard Harbaugh preparing to surrender the gun to Burnette.

But other reports also quote her as saying Genda did not want to go back to jail.

The University of Akron Department is handling the investigation and will present facts to the prosecutor to decide if the shooting is justified.

The shooting happened off the main campus. But Akron Police and the University Department have a mutual aid agreement which allows enforcement activity on each other's turf.


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