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Federal Investigators Wifredo A. Ferrer and Thomas E. Perez investigates the Miami Police Department

Federal Investigators Wifredo A. Ferrer and Thomas E. Perez formally launch a Civil-Rights Investigation into the recent fatal shootings by The Miami Police Department.

On the heels of what could possibly end in criminal indictments, acting Chief Manuel Orosa states that he has already started overhauling the department, including downsizing the tactical units responsible for at least four of the seven recent fatal shootings of black men.

Thomas E. Perez, head of the Justice Department Civil-Rights Division, said Thursday that a preliminary inquiry began in March after receiving complaints from U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson , the Mayor as well as the African American Community.

The civil investigation is known as a “Pattern or Practice” probe, designed to determine if systematic flaws made the shootings more likely than not based on culture and training by the police department.

In his defense acting Chief Manuel Orosa states that “

Quite frankly, I’m concerned some of the shootings could have been avoided by not putting our officers in those situations.” Orosa also went on to reiterate that he told the Justice Department attorneys that their probe was a no-brainer, citing “if the circumstances would have been reversed and cops were shot instead of civilians, he would have sought help from the Justice Department as well.

On Thursday, the Federal Investigators Ferrer and Perez met with Mayor Tomás Regalado, City Manager Johnny Martinez and acting Chief Manuel Orosa before the press conference announcing the formal investigation.

In the afternoon the federal officials along with other colleagues met with the family of one of the slain men, in addition to at least a dozen or so community activists.

The Miami Police Department’s deployment, training and policies all will be scrutinized in the civil rights probe, which will focus on the seven deadly shootings that began in July 2010 and ended in February in Overtown, Little Haiti and Allapattah. The slayings raised tensions, increased cries of “racial profiling” and sparked demands for an independent review.

Federal Investigator Thomas E. Perez stated that:

“Our work is not a gotcha exercise, nor is it, to a fix blame; rather, our goal is to identify and fix any problems we encounter in a comprehensive fashion.” Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer reinforced that: “For a police department to be effective, they must have the trust of those they serve!”

Federal authorities also confirmed they’re also evaluating two of the fatal shootings for possible “criminal civil rights violations.” No weapons were found at the shooting scenes of DeCarlos Moore and
Travis McNeil .

The other men killed by police were:
Joel Lee Johnson
Tarnorris Tyrell Gaye
Gibson Junior Belizaire
Lynn Weatherspoon
Brandon Foster


November 19, 2011 - Posted by | Eye on Justice | , , , , , , , ,

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