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Civil rights leaders who met with U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis said last week they were assured that federal agents are investigating how Miami police came to machine gun a 72-year-old black man in his own apartment in 1996 — a homicide that four years later has cost Miami $2.5 million. But if such an investigation into the brutal death of Richard O. Brown does exist, one thing is clear: Federal authorities aren’t doing much actual investigating. How do we know that, particularly when the feds themselves aren’t commenting on the case? There are three good reasons. And their names are Rolando Jacobo, Janeka Brown — the dead man’s adopted daughter — and her Fort Lauderdale attorney, Barbara Heyer. Jacobo, an ex-cop who did jail time for covering up another Miami police shooting, Brown and Heyer each have important information that’s fundamental to any serious inquiry into the shooting or the apparent police cover-up suggested by the known evidence. But to date, each in one way or another, has been ignored by the U.S. attorney’s office. Attorney Heyer has custody of much of the original physical evidence � including chilling items like the splintered bedroom door that Richard Brown sought refuge behind moments before it was raked by police gunfire. She gathered the evidence while assiduously constructing the wrongful death case that led to the $2.5 million settlement approved by the Miami City Commission in January. In an interview last week, however, Heyer said she’s yet to be contacted by federal prosecutors or agents. Likewise, federal agents haven’t spoken to Heyer’s client. Janeka Brown was 14 years old when SWAT team officers, armed with submachine guns and a search warrant, stormed the second-story Overtown, Fla., apartment she shared with her father the night of March 12, 1996, in search of drugs. Police obtained the warrant after a narcotics officer told a judge he saw a black man in Brown’s apartment give someone a clear plastic bag containing cocaine. No evidence of drugs was found in the apartment. Police found some cocaine on the ground behind the apartment — drugs that police sought to pin on Richard Brown. But Miami assistant city attorney Charles Mays later concluded the cocaine could not “logically be attributed to Brown.” While her father was slaughtered, Janeka Brown cowered between a bathtub and a toilet. If asked, she could testify how — as police were battering down the front door — her father threw her the telephone and told her to run to the bathroom and call 911. Emergency tapes show she did call 911, imploring an operator to send the police because home invaders were breaking in. Similarly, said Heyer, Brown could tell federal agents what she had to endure after telling officers they’d made a terrible mistake about her father, a recently widowed house painter with no criminal record. “They handcuffed her, took her into custody, drove her to the police department and had her sit there while the cops who did this came in and were laughing about it and ordering pizza,” said Heyer. Then there’s what Rolando Jacobo, a former Miami undercover narcotics officer, has to say about Brown’s death. Jacobo, a 13-year veteran, spent most of last year in jail for falsifying a police report in the notorious shooting of Daniel Hoban in Coconut Grove on the night of June 26, 1997. What Jacobo did was write that Hoban showed a gun when he was shot and wounded by Officer Jorge Castello. In fact, as Jacobo now admits, Hoban was carrying a radio, and the gun recovered at the scene was planted by police in an attempt to justify the shooting. Three other officers, including Castello, await trial on related state charges. Jacobo paid dearly for trying to cover up the Grove shooting — a year behind bars, more than a month in solitary confinement, restricted jail privileges, a lost pension, no job. On Feb. 29, days before Jacobo finished his jail sentence, he was hauled before a federal grand jury investigating the Coconut Grove shooting. Jacobo claims he didn’t want to testify, but was coerced with threats of further jail time if he didn’t cooperate. Jacobo, angry about being backed into such a corner, decided not to shut up when he completed his testimony about the Grove shooting under the direction of federal prosecutors Richard Scruggs, the office’s chief of public corruption, and Jennifer Prior, who headed the office’s civil rights criminal prosecution section. “I said [to myself], ‘OK, you want me to talk. Well, it’s not going to stop here. Let’s open the can of worms,’” Jacobo said in an interview last week. What crawled out into the grand jury room was the Richard Brown shooting. “They weren’t prepared for what I said. And afterward, they kind of brushed it off,” said Jacobo, 41. Transcripts of Jacobo’s sworn grand jury testimony were obtained by the Miami Daily Business Review. Jacobo told essentially the same story in the interview. According to Jacobo, he was ringside, in front of the Brown apartment house, when the SWAT team arrived. He was there, he said, as the police “eyeball,” keeping watch while the search warrant was being obtained. Jacobo said he saw the policemen use a battering ram to smash open the front door. He said that the officers yelled and screamed as they were going in, but they did not knock and announce, as is the department’s policy. Police later said they opened fire only after Brown fired two shots at them. (Police later said a .38 revolver was found in Brown’s hand, but no photographs of the gun at the scene were taken. Attorney Heyer says the gun was planted.) Here’s what Jacobo said happened: “I heard one shot from what appeared to be an MP5 submachine gun. Then machine-gun fire that went on for a while. Then a pause, maybe a 10-second pause. And then another bang from a lower-caliber weapon that’s consistent with a gun being fired and then planted.” In all, it was later determined, police fired 122 shots. Jacobo called it “a panic shooting” in the interview. “When they went in, an officer got shot in the back and they thought it was Brown. There was screaming that an officer was shot, and they just started shooting,” said Jacobo “Then, voila, there was a gun.” In fact, Officer Alejandro Macias was shot by a fellow officer. The bullet struck a bulletproof vest and Macias wasn’t seriously injured. Jacobo’s grand jury account lasted only a few minutes. And in the transcripts, prosecutor Prior said, “This is the first I’ve ever heard of this.” Still, Prior was mostly incurious, not even bothering to ask Jacobo to identify Brown by name. And two weeks later, when Jacobo was brought again before the grand jury, the Brown case didn’t even warrant a mention, the transcripts show. In contrast, Heyer called Jacobo, despite his problematic past, “an important witness,” who ultimately “stuck his neck out” to help expose the truth in the Brown case. “He was the police personnel who affirmed what my four other witnesses were saying,” said Heyer. “He was the icing on the cake.” Coming from the attorney who extracted what’s apparently the biggest monetary settlement from a police shooting in Miami’s history, that’s a noteworthy endorsement of credibility. But prosecutors have yet to follow up on his testimony, Jacobo said last week. Richard Brown died four-and-a-half years ago at the hands of Miami police. Since then, and despite major contradictions in the official police version of events, the officers who killed him have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing by an inquest, a homicide investigation, a shooting review board and an internal affairs probe — inquiries attorney Heyer said were essentially one and the same. Now, $2.5 million and a well of doubt later, it’s the U.S. attorney’s turn to investigate.

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