Adam Tavss, Pot-Growing Killer Miami Beach Cop, Gets House Arrest

Lady Justice hasn't exactly been harsh to Adam Tavss, no matter how badly he messes up. When the Miami Beach cop was caught with drugs in his system last year -- months after he shot and killed two different men under questionable circumstances in just four days -- he was allowed to quietly resign from the force and take home $17,000 in unused pension and vacation.

Then in May, he got nabbed running a marijuana growhouse in his apartment. Today, the courts shrugged that one off, too: Tavss gets two years house arrest and can't be a cop anymore. We can all agree on half of that, at least.

Tavss' trouble started June 14, 2009, when he shot to death a tourist from Virginia named Husien Shehada in South Beach on Washington Ave. Four days later, soon after going back on duty, he killed a 29-year-old drifter named Lawrence McCoy Jr. on the McArthur Freeway.

You can read about both cases in our feature story here, but serious questions have been raised about each shooting. Both cases are still officially "open investigations," says Det. Juan Sanchez, spokesman for the Miami Beach PD.

Tavss stayed on desk duty until November, when he resigned after failing the drug test.

Then on May 24, police raided his West Kendall home and found a "fully operational" grow lab with 47 plants worth about $50,000 on the street.

In court today, Tavss defense attorney said the stress of the shootings led the ex-cop to have a "psychological break" and fall into the drug trade, the Herald reports.

"He made a mistake and it cost him his job,'' attorney Robert Buschel said. ``He's accepted responsibility for his mistake and now he has to pick up the pieces of his life and move forward.''

Judge Ellen Sue Venzer bought the argument, apparently. Tavss will spend two years on house arrest, followed by two years of probation, and will give up his law enforcement credentials.

Samer Shehada, who was with his unarmed brother, Husien, when Tavss killed him, was not impressed with the sentence.

"It was really heartbreaking today, to hear he got house arrest," Samer says. "It seems like a really light sentence, given that he was charged with trafficking and caught with so many plants."

Samer and his attorney, John Contini, continue to plan a civil suit against Tavss and the department. "What kind a punishment is that?" Contini says. "When does the Shehada family get any modicum of justice?"

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink