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Look at the physical evidence in the Miami police shooting of Richard O. Brown and what grabs your attention is what ex-cop Rolando Jacobo calls the “voila” gun — a .38 revolver allegedly found by police in the dead man’s hand, but never photographed at the scene of the drug raid. Then there’s the convenient cocaine — imputed to Brown by police after officers claimed to find a small stash in a jar on the ground beneath his bedroom window — a discovery so unconvincing that even a city attorney defending the police determined “it cannot logically be attributed to Mr. Brown.” No evidence of drugs was found inside Brown’s residence. But that’s not the only hard evidence in conflict with the assertions of two Miami police chiefs, recently retired William O’Brien and current chief Raul Martinez, that the 1996 machine gun slaying of the 72-year-old widower in his Overtown apartment was “a good shooting” in the line of duty. Most notable, perhaps, are two .38 bullets recovered by police technicians on the floor of Brown’s bedroom. Police contend Brown shot those bullets as SWAT team officers, some of whom wore second hats as members of the now disbanded Street Narcotics Unit, stormed into the living room through the front door they’d battered down moments before at the start of the March 12, 1996, raid. And they’ve used that accusation to justify unloading on Brown with 122 shots from Hecker & Koch MP5 submachine guns and Glock 40 semi-automatic pistols — apparently the most bullets ever fired by Miami police during a single shooting incident. Brown’s then 14-year-old daughter, Janeka, who survived the ferocious police assault by hiding in the bathroom, and her Fort Lauderdale lawyer argue Brown didn’t own a .38 revolver, and that the gun was planted. Yet even if Brown did shoot at the officers, as police insist, he fired from the bedroom into the living room. But the bullets were found in the bedroom, a physical contradiction. “Even if he was the worst shot in the world, what did the bullets do, go two feet and drop?” asked attorney Barbara Heyer, who earlier this year forced Miami to pay $2.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Janeka Brown. “Projectiles have to get stopped by something.” Next up is a problematic package of evidence that includes a four-panel awning-style bedroom window and screen. The window is opened with a crank. Police allege Brown, who had no criminal record, tossed the jar of cocaine through that open window to the backyard below. The bullet-riddled screen has a cut across it large enough to have accommodated such a feat. Problems, however, begin with the fact that at the time of the shooting the window was closed and there was no crank to open it. The only breaks in the bedroom window were apparently “caused by bullets,” wrote assistant city attorney Charles May in a memo last November. Just as curious, is the fact that the cut on the screen was made from bullet hole to bullet hole. Heyer said that if the case had gone to trial, she had an expert witness prepared to testify that the screen was sliced open by someone after the shooting — suggesting the cut was made to make it appear the cocaine came from Brown’s second floor apartment. Finally, there’s the evidence of and about the bedroom door splintered by gunfire. Bullet holes, chest high, cut through the door at different angles — straight through and sideways — indicating two bursts of shots, one when the door was closed and another when it was open. An apparent boot print on the door indicates it was kicked in at some point. “The door shows that there were, in fact, two volleys,” said Heyer. “That’s in direct conflict with the police saying they shot only in response to Brown.” Mix all that evidence with these additional facts — no fingerprints on the .38 revolver, no fingerprints on the jar of cocaine or the plastic bags inside it, and bullet patterns on the walls and door that demonstrated the police were often firing blindly. Toss in the sworn statements of five witnesses, including ex-Miami undercover narcotics detective Jacobo, who claim police never announced themselves before breaking down the door, a potentially serious breach of departmental policy. What do you get? An inquest, a homicide investigation, a shooting review board and an internal affairs probe that each cleared all the officers that were involved. And, of course, a $2.5 million check from the city of Miami. “They should have figured out what happened that night,” said Jacobo, who spent most of last year in prison for helping cover up for another officer in a 1997 Miami police shooting in Coconut Grove. “A guy in the [police] academy could have gone in and figured it out.”

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