submitted to Miami City Manager Tony E. Crapp Jr., dated June 3.
“This report serves as an assessment of the Miami Police Department and the services it provides to the City’s neighborhoods and residents,” Philip wrote.
The report has drawn mixed reviews from Miami’s black leaders, especially because it did not examine the circumstances of the shootings.
“Many of these shooting incidents are still under review by the Miami-Dade County State Attorneys’ (sic) office and the U.S. Department of Justice. As a result publically (sic) releasable information was used in the preparation of this document and no attempt was made to interview any of the police officers or civilian witnesses involved,” Philip wrote in his report.
Philip reported that between Jan. 1, 2009 and Nov. 14, 2009, before current Police Chief Miguel Exposito took office, male officers fired at eight males, all of whom, the report says, were armed, and killed four of them: two blacks, one Latino and one Asian.
Each of those fatal shootings involved a Latino officer. A black officer fired at and missed two blacks and one Latino and a white officer fired at and missed one black. All the shootings involved individual officers.
A different picture emerged for the period Jan. 1, 2010, to May 1, 2011. Philip reported that police fired at 12 males, killing eight of them — all blacks. Two other blacks and one Latino were wounded and an officer “shot at and missed” a Latino male. Four of the blacks who were killed were armed. The one Latino who was wounded was armed and the one who was fired on and missed was also armed.
For this latter period, all the officers who fired fatal shots were Latinos, except in one case where a black officer was among five who shot and killed a black on Aug. 14, 2010. In another incident involving multiple officers, three Latinos shot and killed a black on Dec. 16, 2010.
This period also saw a female officer, a black, shooting and wounding a black male. A black male officer shot and wounded a black male and a Latino officer shot and wounded a Latino. A Latino officer fired at but missed a Latino.
Miami City Commissioner Richard P. Dunn II said in terms of whether the shootings were justified, “I think we in the community know that all a person really has to do is say the officer feared for his life and that’s it, game over. That puts the onus on the victim.”
In terms of an evaluation of where the department is and where it needs to go, Dunn added, “Philip really echoed and articulated what experts as well as people in the community have been saying for a long time.”
The Rev. Anthony Tate, president of People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE) a police watchdog group, described the report as “decent.”
Tate added, “But one thing the report cannot do and does not reflect, because [Philip] has not spoken to the officers, because most of the shootings are still under investigation, [Philip] is unable to ascertain [officers’] insights and points of view. It is limited to his personal observations and not those of the officers and the witnesses who cannot speak about the matter.”
Philip also drew attention to the fact that the last five incidents involved officers in the Gang Unit, adding, “The fact that these officers were all assigned to specialized units at the time these shootings occurred may indicate issues regarding their selection, training and/or management.”
Philip also noted that Exposito is required to retire by Jan. 1, 2012 under department rules. Those rules have nothing to do with the shootings. Philip said the city should spend the next 45 days looking for a replacement and ensure his successor is held to a performance plan.
Exposito, in a statement released by the police department, said he was “not surprised” by the report and that the concerns it cited will be discussed with City Manager Crapp to “realize common ground and mutual understanding. Any unresolved issues will be addressed appropriately.”
That meeting has already been scheduled, according to Miami Police Public Information Officer Commander Delrish Moss.
“It will be a sit-down to talk about those things [in the report] and how we can move forward,” Moss said.
Dunn is hopeful the report will be a springboard for improvement in the department.
“It could set the foundation for what the next chief should implement and employ in his administration,” Dunn said.
Cynthia Roby can be reached at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net
Pictured Above is Paul Philip