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March 2004
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Hirko case reaches split verdict.

The Morning Call has the details, including the extraordinarily complex verdict sheet which still has many of the questions unanswered.

Kristin Fodi, Hirko’s fiancee, and Gwendolyn Dashner, his mother, won key points on Hirko’s behalf following a botched 1997 drug raid in which the 21-year-old Hirko was killed and his residence set on fire. Fodi escaped the house through a second-floor window.

Perhaps the most significant finding in the 58-question verdict sheet was the pronouncement that Officer Joseph Riedy, who fired the fatal shots at Hirko, was found to have used excessive force.

There’s still a lot more to be determined in this case. Some of my past reporting on it can be found here and here and on the Drug War Victims page.
I just received a series of comments regarding the decision on an old post as people seem to be looking for a place to comment on the decision. First from Lou:

Joe Riedy is a long time friend of mine who I shoot with regularly. Joe trained intensely for these type situations, and when drug dealer Hirko presented a weapon, I know a squeeze from a full-auto MP5 produces fatal results. Joe was there on scene as part of the “high risk” team to protect the other law enforcement. I cannot believe this dirt bag attorney won this case. A sad day for jurys, law enforcement. Wait until someday someone needs an officer to draw a weapon, and they “stay back where it is safe and you are on your own”.

Then…

This type of situation did not warrant a full auto MP5. 4 days before police gained access to the home with a simple knock. Justice was served today. I hope the next time an officer decides to draw a weapon, they’ll think twice about shooting someone 11 times in the back.

And then…

In reference to the comment above, to whom ever wrote it. I hope when you need a Cop that their is not one around!!!!! Wife of a Cop

I understand from the perspective of officers involved in such cases that it can be hard to be told that what you were doing to protect your fellow officers was wrong. And in reality, the problem goes back a step further. The notion that military-style assaults and MP5 weapons and flash grenades are the proper approach to deal with marijuana — that’s what’s outrageous.
Our drug laws and our tactics for dealing with drug laws are endangering both our citizens and our police. The function of police is to protect and serve the citizens, not act like an occupying military force. There is no excuse for that kind of force as a standard operating procedure. And there is no excuse for bad drug laws that encourage such techniques.
It’s time to stop the violence on both sides and reform the drug laws.

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