In an eight month period eight black men were shot and killed by officers of the Miami police department. While many within the community saw this as a problem worth looking into, it’s taken a bit longer to get the attention of officials. Last week, however, the Department of Justice announced it would be looking into the shootings to determine the cause.
Calling it a “pattern and practice” probe, the agency will try to determine if “systemic flaws made shootings of black men more likely, rather than unfortunate, last-choice actions, as the officers’ supporters maintain.”
The strain of shootings began in July 2010 in the Overtown area. Though the official word from MPD said that DeCarlos Moore was killed as a result of a turf war, family members and community leaders began questioning the police’s version as the killings continued.
The NAACP and the ACLU called on a federal investigation early this year and Representative Frederica Wilson also asked for help from the Justice Department. Upon hearing the announcement last week, Wilson said the move was a step in the right direction. She also said “I want Miami police to respect each other, and drop the racist tactics in training.”
It’s important to note that this is not a criminal investigation and no one will be charged as a direct result of this particular investigation. These shootings are also under investigation by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. If criminal charges were to arise, it is this investigation from the State Attorney that would birth them. Instead, the DOJ’s investigation in to determine what, if anything, needs to change in the training and procedural practices of the department.
Family members of those eight men shot and killed by police were relieved to hear of the investigation. Many of these men were unarmed when shot and their families still grapple with the version of events handed down from the city.
This isn’t the first time the feds have moved in to investigate this city’s police department. In just 2002, there was a much broader investigation. In 2003 this investigation concluded that MPD had “serious flaws in the way it conducted searches and seizures, used firearms, defined use of force, and worked with police dogs.” Like the current investigation, this one started after several questionable police shootings.
Regardless of what neighborhood you live in or the color of your skin, it would be nice to be treated respectfully by the police and it would be reassuring to have some faith that they had your best interests in mind. This isn’t always the case, however. If you are facing criminal charges and have questions about the way you were treated or how the charges came to be, contact us today for a free consultation on your case.