Prosecutors Clear Miami Officer in Shooting Death of DeCarlos Moore

On July 5 last year, Miami Police Officer Joseph Marin fired a single shot into the head of a 36-year-old, unarmed man named DeCarlos Moore during a traffic stop in Overtown. Moore's death touched off a firestorm that has escalated in past ten months as MPD officers have killed six more black men in separate shootings.

Today, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle closed her investigation into Moore's death, ruling that Marin was justified because Moore reached into his car and likely grabbed a tin foil pouch of crack rocks that could have been mistaken for a gun.

Rundle spent several hours meeting with Moore's family this afternoon before announcing the results of the investigation.

We've embedded the full 18-page report below, but in essence Rundle agreed with Marin and his partner, Vionna Browne-Williams, that they had reason to fear for their lives during their encounter with Moore.

The pair stopped Moore just before noon at NW Third Avenue and 16th Terrace because they believed the Honda Accord he was driving might have been stolen.

Moore at first listened to Marin's directions by leaving his car and walking toward the police officers. But halfway to the cruiser, he spun around, ran back to his car, and reached inside. When he turned toward the officers, Marin fired the single shot that killed him.

Rundle's report adds new details to the scene. When reinforcements arrived, they found 23 crack rocks next to Moore's body, packaged in "glassine baggies with a 'Batman' logo" and wrapped in a ball of foil the size of a fist. They also found nearly 28 grams of marijuana in his car.

Although witnesses later told investigators different stories -- including at least one who said Moore was shot in the back of the head -- Rundle ruled that the physical evidence at the scene backed Marin's version of the story.

The officer likely saw the balled-up foil in Moore's hand, thought it was a gun, and fired, Rundle says, in which case he was justified in shooting.

"Crime scene investigators recovered a crumpled, balled piece of aluminum foil containing crack cocaine rocks," the report concludes. "We cannot forensically link that balled-up foil to Mr. Moore; however it is a very reasonable proposition that the balled-up foil was the metallic object referred to in Officer Marin's [report]."

Here's Rundle's report:


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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