The West Perrine community where Jamar Rollins lived is still reeling from his December 30 shooting death at the hands of Miami-Dade County Police officers. Though MDPD says Rollins pointed a gun at cops before he was shot last month, eyewitnesses contend that Rollins' hands were raised and that he did not own a gun. (A gun was recovered from the scene, police say.)
Regardless, Rollins' friends and family have had their lives upended — they've marched in the streets of West Perrine and shared memories of their loved one on Facebook. They are demanding answers from Miami-Dade Police.
But the officers who pulled Rollins over and fired multiple bullets into him will instead return to their normal lives tomorrow. A MDPD spokesperson tells New Times the pair of cops, Officers Andrew Garcia and Jesus Coto, will return to street patrols January 6.
"The officers were on a three-day administrative leave, an option offered as per the bargaining agreement, and they had scheduled
Zabaleta said the officers' return has no bearing on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's investigation into the case.
On social media, one resident said the cops' return to active duty is a "slap in the face for his family and our community."
Officers who shoot civilians are typically placed on some form of desk duty or administrative reassignment while internal investigators examine their cases. But those suspension times can vary wildly: North Miami Police Officer Jonathan
MDPD, meanwhile, has not yet released major details in the case, such as which officer initially opened fire on Rollins or where the gun was found at the scene. Police say that they pulled Rollins' car over for driving "erratically" on the 10100 block of West Indigo Street and that a passenger in Rollins' car, Devin Smith, took off running when the car stopped. But the two cops — who were dressed in plainclothes and were working as undercover detectives — were not wearing body cameras during the shooting.
Friends and family, however, describe Rollins, age 21, as a kind-hearted young man who loved dirt-biking and riding ATVs. He was a father. And his family insists he was not the type to hang out with criminals.
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The shooting is the latest in a long-running string of race-related scandals weighing down MDPD: Near the end of 2016, two Miami-Dade officers were filmed dropping a legless black woman on the ground and leaving her there, and the department was also sued for dumping a noticeably blind black man on the side of a road and forcing him to walk home in oncoming traffic.
Garcia and Coto will return to duty while FDLE asks residents and eyewitnesses to step forward and tell their side of the story. Multiple eyewitnesses have told the Miami Herald and Local 10 News that they saw Rollins' hands in the air during the shooting; FDLE says those witnesses have not spoken to authorities.
Tuesday night, MDPD and county Commissioner Dennis C. Moss, whose district encompasses West Perrine, held an emergency town-hall meeting at the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church on SW 184th Street. According to the Miami Herald, dozens of residents filled the pews — and let the police department know they were furious that MDPD was releasing information at a glacial pace.
“This was not gun violence; this was an assassination,” Rollins' aunt, Karen Harris, said during the meeting, according to the Herald. Police have declined to release more information about the case, citing FDLE's open investigation.