Miami City Hall Is Just Ignoring DOJ Settlement on Excessive Police Shootings

In a bloody eight months between 2010 and 2011, City of Miami cops shot and killed seven black men — a streak so egregious that the Department of Justice swooped in. Two years ago, they released their findings: Miami cops had violated civil rights through a pattern of excessive force. Among the feds' most stinging criticisms was that cops routinely dragged their feet on internal investigations and rarely held themselves accountable for mistakes.

The DOJ must be having déjà vu this morning. City leaders who are supposed to be negotiating a settlement to resolve the cops' screwups have apparently taken a page out of MPD's handbook and, according to the feds, have simply stopped responding to phone calls or letters from Washington.

"Our most recent negotiating session was on January 22, 2015," DOJ attorneys write in a letter first obtained by the Miami Herald's David Smiley. "Since then, our repeated phone calls and emails to your office have gone unanswered. From this unwillingness to communicate, we can only conclude that the City no longer wants to negotiate a settlement."


What the hell is going on in City Hall? City Manager Daniel Alfonso declined to elaborate to the Herald, citing the possibility of further legal action. 

In their letter, the feds note that if the city doesn't get its act together, the legal wheels will start turning anew, costing taxpayers God knows how many thousands as the city is forced to submit new evidence around every police shooting and policy change in the department since the DOJ probe ended in July 2013. 

For families affected by the shootings, the stubborn refusal to deal with the police's problems are pure agony. Sheila McNeil's 28-year-old son Travis was unarmed when he was shot and killed at a traffic stop amidst MPD's deadly string of shootings.
As the city has dragged their feet on a settlement and racked up legal bills defending itself from her civil lawsuit, the police department found time to re-hire the cop who killed her son — Officer Reynoldo Goyos, who'd been fired for improper procedure but then gifted his job back by an arbitrator.

DOJ officials and Alfonso are reportedly set to meet again this week to try to resolve the impasse. 
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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