Last month, an arbitration board decided that Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa was wrong to fire one of his officers for shooting and killing an unarmed man named Travis McNeil at a traffic stop. McNeil was the seventh black man killed in an eight month span by Miami police -- a spree that sparked a probe that has landed the force under a federal monitoring program.
Now, Riptide has obtained that board's decision, which lays out why Officer Reynaldo Goyos is once again a Miami police officer. The documents also show how much of Goyos' back pay taxpayers on are now the hook for: $71,696.
Goyos killed 28-year-old McNeil just after 11 p.m. on February 10, 2010, shortly after McNeil and a friend, Kareem Williams, left the Take One Lounge. Goyos fired three shots into the car, killing McNeil and wounding Williams, after pulling them over as part of a neighborhood sting involving the bar. Neither man was armed.
When the city's Firearms Review Board took up the case in December 2012, they found that Goyos broke MPD's "Deadly Force Policy" by putting himself in an unnecessarily risky position and giving inconsistent statements about why he fired his weapon.
Orosa, who took over as police chief after his predecessor Miguel Exposito was fired in part for his role in the string of deadly shootings, fired Goyos the next month.
But the police union took the case to an independent arbitrator, and in a report dated August 8, he picks apart the department's case against the officer.
Goyos had been criticized for saying he shot McNeil when the driver reached to his waistband, a fact the review board found inconsistent with a bullet wound that entered McNeil's left shoulder blade.
But the arbitrator said that forensic evidence, in fact, showed the shot hit McNeil's left side in a position consistent with the cop's story.
Goyos was also fired for erroneously believing his life was in danger and for claiming he'd seen a "black object" in McNeil's hands when the evidence didn't support that claim; but the arbitrator points to a black cell phone found on the floor of McNeil's car as proof that Goyos may well have had reason to fear for his life.
Finally, on the claim that Goyos shouldn't have put himself in such a risky position, the arbitrator found that another officer who was driving their car actually put Goyos in that position.
McNeil's mother, Sheila, is still pursuing a federal civil case against the department and told New Times last month that she's outraged Goyos was re-hired despite killing an unarmed man.
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