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Family frustrated with police department in wake of fatal accident | News

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Family frustrated with police department in wake of fatal accident
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- A St. Petersburg family is outraged because they feel the police department is not doing enough to help in the wake of a fatal accident.

More than three weeks ago, Harold Fleming, Jr. was in his wheelchair when he was hit and killed by a St. Petersburg police officer while crossing 38th Avenue North near 64th Street.

Jonathan Palma represents Fleming's family. According to the attorney, what is adding to the family's pain is that no one from the St Petersburg Police Department has shown any sympathy. Palma said he has even tried to reach out to Chief Harmon to talk to the family.

"They just want to be acknowledged. They'd like someone from the St. Pete Police Department to reach out to them or my office to sit down with them. Apologize for what happened," said Palma.

Mike Puetz, with St. Petersburg Police, said any reserved contact should not be interpreted as being unsympathetic. Detectives are still gathering evidence in the investigation. Then, there is the legal aspect.

"He is an attorney representing a potential plaintiff in a case like this. It's not unusual for the chief not to want to be deposed by an attorney for the family at this point," said Puetz.

Palma is also concerned because the officer who killed Fleming, Mehmedin Karic, was not placed on administrative leave. Authorities though said that only applies to cases with intentional use of force, and Officer Karic was cleared to continue.

The Fleming family attorney also doesn't believe the police department should be investigating their own.

"I understand and I respect that there's an ongoing investigation and the family understands and respects that and we're all just hoping and praying that it's a fair investigation," said Karic.

"We feel very strongly that we can certainly do a very un-biased thorough and fair investigation and I think the final outcome of this is going to prove that," said Puetz.

Authorities say the investigation should be finished within a couple weeks or so.

Police officials added that it is protocol for the department to handle their own investigations, such as this one. Once they have finished theirs, it can be reviewed by a number of other entities.

Meanwhile, Palma said Fleming's family will be holding a memorial service for him Friday at 2 p.m. at Northside Baptist Church, 6000 38th Ave. N. in St. Pete.

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