Justice Dept. begins Unprecedented Monitoring of Miami Police over Fatal Shootings

Friday, July 12, 2013
Former Miami Police Chief Miguel Esposito

Following several “unjustified” shootings, Miami’s police department (MPD) will now undergo monitoring by a federal judge for the first time to ensure major changes are implemented.


The move comes after the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a civil rights investigation into 33 police-involved shootings from 2008 through 2011. At least seven black men were killed among those fatally wounded or injured during the incidents reviewed.


Justice investigators agreed with the police department’s own findings that three of the 33 shootings were “unjustified.”


However, the Justice Department also concluded that an unspecified number of other shootings involved excessive force, and “may have resulted from tactical and training deficiencies,” according to a letter signed by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez.


Former Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito, who ran the department during much of the period in question, took exception to the findings, telling the Miami Herald: “Whoever did this probe has very little understanding of what police officers do on a daily basis.”


Actually, the report states, “we recognize the challenges that MPD officers confront on a daily basis. The delivery of police services is a difficult, often dangerous, job in which the use of force, including the use of deadly force, is sometimes necessary.” Nonetheless, the Justice Department concluded that “MPD engages in a pattern or practice of excessive use of force with respect to firearm discharges.”


U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) welcomed the report.


“They described a very dysfunctional police department, a police department that is ingrained in excessive and deadly force,” Wilson, who had called for a federal investigation into Miami police practices, told the newspaper. “I’m ashamed of what we have been dealing with.”


The report did not identify any police officers by name. But the Justice Department is reportedly investigating certain members of the force who were implicated in the unjustified shootings.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Justice Department Finds Miami Police Used Excessive Force in Shootings (by Jay Weaver, Kathleen Mcgrory and David Ovalle, Miami Herald)

Investigation of City of Miami Police Department (Department of Justice) (pdf)

Miami Police Engaged in Excessive Force, Justice Department Finds (by Sarah Whites-Koditschek, Main Justice)


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