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South Bend officer who caused deadly crash could be fired in November

WSBT 22 photo

The fate of a South Bend police officer could be decided in November, after his involvement in a crash that killed a young mother.

The Board of Public Safety has accepted the chief's recommendation to fire Officer Justin Gorny. The board also accepted Gorny's request for an appeal.

People who support victim Erica Flores say it's a long wait to finally get justice.

“I would ask the board to please accept my letter of recommendation for the termination of Officer Gorny as submitted to the board,” said Chief Scott Ruszkowski, South Bend Police Department.

Several people came to today's (Thursday’s) Board of Public Safety meeting to hear those words for themselves.

This comes after Officer Justin Gorny hit and killed 22-year-old Erica Flores while responding to a call back in July.

It resulted in rallies by community members who say they want to see more accountability and change.

“We’re going to continue to speak out,” said Luis Zapata, community leader and Flores family friend: This is a movement. This is Erica’s movement, it’s for her, it’s so her life is not forgotten.”

Flores' supporters spoke out after the hearing date was set. Some pointed out that Gorny acted recklessly.

Video provided for use by the Flores Family attorney shows Gorny's lights activated, but we still don't know if his siren was on.

The attorney also says Gorny's squad car was going more than 90 miles an hour at the intersection of Western and Kaley.

“Ambulances come to intersections, and they slow down, and they’re trying to save lives that they know are in danger,” said Steve Phillips, Flores family attorney. “They don’t just fly through intersections, and that’s why the statues requiring these vehicles to slow down and activate sirens are so important.”

In a statement, Chief Scott Ruszkowski acknowledged that, based on his review of the facts and evidence, Officer Gorny violated the department's duty manual.

Community leaders say the family cannot move forward until this is resolved.

“I’m angry with the process,” said Zapata. “I’m frustrated with the process because it’s taking too long. It shouldn’t take this long and it’s part of the things we are pushing for change. Like we said the other day, it’s not about revenge. We want justice.”

The hearing for Gorny's appeal has been set for November 5th and 6th.

Councilman Oliver Davis pointed out the general election is Tuesday the 6th, which could cause some problems.

We also learned that while Gorny is off-duty, he is still being paid.

The Flores Family attorney says they are still considering a civil lawsuit.

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