Earlier this week, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office released an hourlong interview by North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene — a move that sparked a new media firestorm over last July's police shooting of Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black man lying in the street with his hands up. In the interview, Eugene describes a police department in disarray, calls the scene of the shooting a "mess," and suggests the shooter knew that the autistic man Kinsey was trying to help held only a toy truck, not a gun as police had feared.
Now North Miami Commissioner Scott Galvin says he's upset that the State Attorney's Office released the tape of the chief's interview without notifying his city first. Moreover, he says his city's government is growing increasingly impatient with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's months-long probe into the controversial police shooting.
"If this was the Oscars, I'd be cueing the cut music for them," Galvin says. "They need to wrap this up. They need to vindicate everyone or vindicate someone or just do something."
He adds, "The State Attorney's Office, without notifying the City of North Miami, released critical documentation into an ongoing and open investigation. We're not even clear yet what else... hasn't been released."
The State Attorney's Office has closed its investigation into Emile
In the audio clip, "the chief references several members of his force," Galvin says. "Have they interviewed those people? Is
A spokesperson for Rundle's office, Ed Griffith, declined to comment on Galvin's remarks. Earlier this week, Griffith told New Times that Rundle's office is "very close to coming to a decision" as to whether to charge
But the term "very close" is vague. Rundle's office is famous for letting police-shooting or brutality investigations stretch on for years — the office only closed its investigation into the prison-shower death of Darren Rainey this past March despite the fact that Rainey died in 2012. Charging
Likewise, it has now been eight months since Kinsey was shot in the leg. Kinsey was simply trying to help an autistic man, Arnaldo Rios Soto, out of the street in North Miami last July 18 when a bystander called 911 and warned that Rios Soto might have been holding a gun.
A SWAT team arrived and surrounded Kinsey — who laid down on his back with his hands up. Kinsey was videotaped in this position begging cops not to shoot him and shouting that Rios Soto was simply autistic and holding a toy truck, not a gun.
John Rivera, the Dade County Police Benevolent Association's president, defended
After the shooting, North Miami Police suspended both
The audio of the chief's interview, which New Times obtained Tuesday, sheds light on
Before the audiotape was released this week, Galvin says, city officials in North Miami were already growing impatient with the pace of Rundle's probe. After the shooting, Eugene called in the FDLE to investigate. That department finished its investigation in December, and Rundle's office has had the information since then. Galvin says the city hadn't heard much about the investigation's status — until this week.
"That this information just dropped on the city with no warning was just stunning," Galvin says. "No one knew it was coming. We don't know what to make of it even now. Is this even a fraction of what they have?"
As to the content of the chief's remarks, Galvin says that Eugene "clearly threw the whole department under the bus" but that extra "context" is needed. He says his city's police department is not as dysfunctional as the chief disclosed in private.
"He was speaking a week after this happened and two weeks after he came on the job," Galvin says. "So I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. It's hard to grasp the entirety of the police department in just two weeks' time in there, and we've done a lot of work training and improving things since then."
(Eugene has worked for the department since 2013 but was sworn in as chief only six days before Kinsey's shooting.)
Galvin says city employees have already given him feedback about the audiotape "from both sides" of the issue.
"I've had some saying, 'What the heck? Why isn't
Tim Elfrink contributed reporting.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.