Renegade Road

A woman perishes in a collision with an Indian leader's kin. Her family cries coverup.

But try to maneuver through his entourage and his petite attorney, Kathryn Meyers, steps in like a blocking linebacker. "Would you just allow him to speak to his lawyer?" she demands.

All four young men involved in the accident with Tatiana Furry have been charged with crimes or driving offenses, none of them related to the January 21 incident. Until now, their rap sheets have gone unreported. The record of the chairman's grandson and alleged driver, Kent Billie, includes the most serious charges.

Around 9 p.m. Saturday, November 8, 2008, less than three months before the fatal accident, Billie was doing 71 mph in a 50 mph zone on Route 27. Travis Osceola was in the passenger seat. When Pembroke Pines Police Officer Scott Kushi pulled over the 2008 gray Ford SUV, he smelled marijuana, and Billie handed over a "five-gram" bag of "suspect cannabis," according to a police report. Kushi also turned up "one gram of suspect cocaine" in Billie's right pants pocket. "Billie advised," continues the report, "that he had purchased the cannabis for $100 and the cocaine for $50."

Tatiana Furry treated her beagle TJ like a son, says her mom Helene.
Courtesy of the Furry family
Tatiana Furry treated her beagle TJ like a son, says her mom Helene.
Glades airboat captain Jesse Kennon witnessed the aftermath of Tatiana Furry's fatal accident.
C. Stiles
Glades airboat captain Jesse Kennon witnessed the aftermath of Tatiana Furry's fatal accident.

During Billie's arrest, the cop also discovered an open bottle of Jack Daniel's in the vehicle. Officer Kushi cuffed Osceola too, for "five grams of suspect cannabis" he found on him.

According to a plea deal reached in April, Billie's charges will be dropped if he completes a two-year program including abstinence from alcohol and drugs. Osceola's pot possession charge will be similarly forgiven.

Then there's Clifton Huggins, who in October 2007 was clocked by a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea zooming through a 40 mph zone at 70 mph in his silver 2006 Jeep SUV without a driver's license. He was then 16 years old. Less than a month later, his driving privileges were suspended for six months after he was pulled over in Hillsborough County for driving recklessly; his blood alcohol level was over the limit, according to court records. In May 2008, a judge revoked his license indefinitely after he failed to appear in Miami-Dade court for allegedly making an improper U-turn and "knowingly" driving without a license.

In June 2008, Jared Tiger, driving a black 2008 Ford Explorer, was busted doing 61 mph in a 45 mph zone as he traveled east on Tamiami Trail a few miles past the casino. The Miami-Dade Police officer detected a "strong smell of marijuana" and saw a joint on the console, according to a police report. When ordered to step out of the SUV, Tiger "became aggressive, clos[ing] his fist" and yelling, "'What? What you say?'" He was cuffed and charged with possession of cannabis and resisting an officer, but the charges were dropped after Tiger completed a pretrial intervention program in February 2009.

Efforts to contact the young men through calls to their cell phones, visits to their homes, and messages to their online accounts have proven fruitless. They live just outside the Miccosukee Indian Village, in the rural town of Ochopee, where tribe members' houses are often gaudy affairs, expansive and columned. High-priced toys, such as brand-new SUVs and sports cars, airboats, and golf carts for inter-reservation travel, litter the lawns. Revenue from the Miccosukee casino has made the citizenry rich: The $75 million-plus the resort brings in annually is split among tribe members.

When a New Times reporter knocks on the front door of Jared Tiger's slate-gray home, the lanky, goateed young man, who stands five feet five inches tall and weighs only 130 pounds, answers. Tattoos on his neck bear his initials and the word shotgun in delicate script, and he winces against the sunlight as if it wounds him. "Yeah, I don't want to discuss anything," he tells a reporter.

Asked if he was injured in the accident, Tiger answers, "No, not much," and shuts the door.

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Around 7 p.m. on the chilly, clear night of February 18, Thomas Cypress, Chairman Billy Cypress's 54-year-old brother, was driving west along Tamiami Trail when his silver 2000 Toyota Tundra slammed into a red Chevrolet coupe traveling the other way. The driver and passenger of the Chevy, Robert and Paulette Kirkpatrick, retired husband-and-wife schoolteachers from Maryland on their way home from an arts festival in Naples, were both dead before ambulances arrived. The accident was less than a month after Tatiana's, its location less than a mile west.

Cypress was in the wrong lane as he attempted to pass another car, according to a police report. He had a case of Budweiser beside him, and his blood alcohol content was .249, cops say, more than three times the legal limit. He had been convicted of three previous DUIs and was driving with a suspended license.

After the accident, Will Furry was uncharacteristically irate. "They're killing people; they're killing people," he declared incredulously. "In one month, they've killed three people!"

Law enforcement officials' handling of the Thomas Cypress accident, however, was markedly different from that of Tatiana Furry. Florida Highway Patrol was first on the scene and never relinquished control. "We've had discussions with the tribe," says FHP spokesman Lt. Pat Santangelo, "and the directive that we have... instructs us to handle any type of a traffic fatality that happens on that stretch of road."

Cypress was charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter by Miami-Dade prosecutors. On March 24, a judge rejected his request to be released to an alcohol-abuse center "sensitive" to Native Americans, and he remains in jail. His trial will begin in late June.

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10 comments
evalye
evalye

I am Naive American Indian, I am proud of my heritage and the progress we have made in the dominant "white" world. My father served in two wars fighting for this country. I was raised to respect all mankind, and hold all life as precious, and to be a teacher to those who wanted knowledge about my culture. I try to live by my family examples.

I am appalled at what I have read here. I am thinking what has happened to these people? Is this really happening? Then I remembered, my brother who was considered important and a prominent member of our tribe. He had an alcohol addiction he struggled with over a number of years. He was a successful business man despite the addiction, as he could stay sober for years at a time. His last months were spent drinking and within a four month period, he was stopped for DUI's three times by trbal police. He never went to court, and if he did he was slapped on the hand and let go. The fourth time he killed himself, and another.

I recieved an anonmynous phone call four days after his death from a gentleman describing himself as a police officer, he said," your brother and the other killed would be alive if I had done something, I am sorry". I know this type of thing exists everywhere. In defense of Native people its not just in "Indian Country". As human beings we all fail. We need to address these issues together.

Mike
Mike

I am sorry it is Tiger not Tyler.

Thank you

Mike
Mike

I see that the gangs have infected the natives too....Don't tell me those are native tattoos because they are not..That's a gang tattoo on tyler's neck.

Nestor
Nestor

There are more examples of misconduct by this tribe. In the early 90's it was common practice to purchase vehicles and simply not make payments. They would then drive into the reservation where banks were unable to reposses. On one instance, a tow truck driver, carrying a concelaed weapon permit was arrested after being given access to the reservation. His waepon was in his vehicle. The truck was impounded for about a year. DO NOT SPONSOR THESE PEOPLE'S LACK OF RESPECT. DO NOT VISIT THEIR CASINOS. YOU ARE ON THEIR TURF PLAYING BY THEIR RULES, AND THEY ACT WITH IMPUNITY!!!

Moses
Moses

It is a shame to read about this. Native Indians need to take control of their actions. They need to stop acting like little rich brats. I would suggest everyone to stop going to the Indian Casinos because they take your money, and they get you killed.

I always supported Native Americans because this is their land, and It was taken from there. However, it doesn't mean that they can hurt or do whatever they want. The law should apply to everyone equally. Steven Segal always obey this rule in his movies....Making everyone believe that natives were pasive people, but I guess not..

kat
kat

seriously... grow up (mary tiger). perhaps if you do, the children (judging by your last name) of your tribe would be able to grow up as well?! it is ridiculous for an indian tribe to be so set on not being part of the US when apparently they can't handle their own "territory" on their own anyway? let it be your deal if it was indians you killed on that highway - but it wasn't! it was US citizens. seriously... grow up. i hope that the truth comes out and the tribal police are able to admit what happened with some pride and respect for themselves.

ANA
ANA

TO: MARY TIGER, What they are writing is not lies, it is the truth and by your last name i would say you are probably an indian person. Get a hold on these irresponsible young men and stop hurting other people. I hope they go to Jail. They dont seem to care only about themselves.

ANA
ANA

GREAT STORY, much more information than the Miami Herald.I am shocked with the police records from the occupants of the car with the four indians. No wonder they were not speaking they were trying to cover up as much as possible. All Kent Billie does is get into trouble and the fact he just went to court in april on another incident. Now I see why the indians were hush hush. They tried to make him out as an inicent victim but the truth is he has a record on drinking, drugs and speeding. Shame on you Micossukkee Indians. The state attorneys will get to the bottom of this.

Mary Tiger
Mary Tiger

You should not write anything you don't have both sides of the story. All you are printing is lies. No better than most of the people in charge of this country.

 
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