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Miami Officer Fired for Leading 120 mph Chase

Sept. 14--Miami's most famous lead-footed cop has been fired.

Officer Fausto Lopez was found guilty in July of administrative charges that included breaching discipline, acting recklessly with city property and disgraceful conduct. The internal affairs probe followed a high-speed chase with a state trooper in October.

Lopez, a six-year police veteran, was clocked going 120 mph by Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Jane Watts, who followed him after he soared past her on the turnpike in Broward County on Oct. 11. A video of the seven-minute pursuit shows that Lopez was all over the road, changing lanes and driving erratically.

It ended with Lopez finally stopping, and Watts arresting him at gunpoint. The escapade lead to national headlines.

The case led to tension between FHP and Miami police, some of whom claimed the trooper showed a lack of professional courtesy to Lopez, who was on his way to an off-duty job. But it also caused a public outcry over police officers who abuse their authority by breaking speeding laws.

Lopez eventually pleaded no contest to reckless driving and paid $3,300 in fines and accepted 100 hours of community service.

The city subsequently learned that Lopez showed a pattern of reckless driving while off duty in his take-home patrol car, consistently speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour during one period between September and November.

Lopez, could not be reached for comment. In June, when the department suspended him, he said he disagreed with the facts of the investigation, which concluded that he should be fired. He was dismissed Thursday.

Calls to Miami's Fraternal Order of Police, which represents Lopez, were not returned Friday.