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'Not an imminent threat': Questions over now-retired police officer's shooting of car-theft suspect

Springfield Police Department vehicle.
Elizabeth Román
Springfield Police Department vehicle.

There are calls for a now-retired Springfield police officer to be charged with attempted murder after wounding a suspect in a vehicle theft last year.

On November 16, Springfield Police were pursuing a car driven by Yasir Fardan and the chase led to a driveway. According to MassLive, police reports indicate Officer Richard Ward shot at Fardan out of fear of being struck by the car. He hit Fardan in the elbow, wounding him.

Charles Stokes, a minister who has acted as a spokesperson for Fardan's family, said the video from a police-warn body camera paints a different picture.

"It's clear that that young man, at the time that the bullets were shot in that car, was not an imminent threat to either one of those officers' lives," Stokes said Thursday.

The Springfield Police Department's use-of-force policy, which was revised a few months after the incident, discourages officers from shooting at moving vehicles “unless the occupants are using, or threatened the use of deadly physical force, against the officer or another person present.”

It is unclear what the department’s policy was at the time Fardan was shot. NEPM has filed a public records request to obtain the previous guidelines.

The Hampden District Attorney's Office said it's investigating whether the use of force against Fardan was justified.

In a statement, spokesperson James Leydon said “any public release of its findings will occur once [Fardan's] criminal case has been resolved in order to protect the defendant’s rights during the court process.”

Fardan is facing felony charges related to the alleged vehicle theft. The DA’s office said the case is “progressing in court."

Springfield police said Ward retired in February after 28 years on the job. A spokesperson said the department concluded its own investigation and forwarded its findings to the district attorney. When asked about specifics, the department referred any questions to the DA’s office.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.