Did Miami-Dade cops lure criminals to Redlands with the specific intent of executing them without a trial? Miami-Dade taxpayers may never know for sure, but they now are on the hook for $1.3 million in settlements to avoid that question going to trial.
That's the total price the county has agreed to pay to the families of four men who were ambushed and killed by police back in 2011 during a drug sting. That includes the $700,000 the county settled on today to avoid a lawsuit from the family of Rosendo Betancourt, the insider informant who actually helped police set up the sting but wound up dead as well
The June 2011 mass killing was previously investigated in depth by New Times, but here's the quick story: Miami-Dade police enlisted Betancourt to help bring down a gang led by Roger Gonzalez Sr, a career criminal who had actually gotten out of jail early for previous offenses by working as a police informant himself.
Police had told Betancourt to inform Gonzalez that there was 20 pounds of marijuana waiting for the taking in a home in the Redland. Gonzalez led his son, Betancourt and Antonio Andrew, a mentally-impaired sometimes car thief, to the home. When they arrived, police were waiting for them. All four men wound up dead. None of the men actually fired their weapons at cops.
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Police, however, were unable to prove that three of the four killings were legally justified, and have paid out hefty sums now the victim's families. An investigation is still ongoing however to find if some officers involved tampered with evidence.
Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson tells NBC Miami that he doesn't think that the seven figures worth of settlements necessarily means that the department did anything wrong.
“I wouldn’t say anything really went wrong," he told the station. "I think it’s just a combination of a lot of questionable activities, a lot of bad actors, if you will … What happened happened. We talk about bad things coming together. When I say bad things I’m talking about bad people. Police tried to intervene and people lost their lives. That’s a bad thing. All we can do is to try to learn from it, not repeat it and go forward as a county."
Mayor Carlos Gimenez says the settlements were "the prudent thing to do" as the families could have received more had the suits actually gone to trial.