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Miami-Dade’s Black Lawyers Association is preparing to turn up the heat on U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis to investigate the machine-gun slaying by Miami police of widower Richard O. Brown, 72, in his own apartment. Representatives of the 300-attorney group, upset by federal inaction in the face of evidence of a police cover-up that prompted the city last year to pay a record $2.5 million to the dead man’s daughter, are scheduled to meet with Lewis at 1 p.m. Friday to demand federal intervention. “The U.S. attorney, for whatever reason, has chosen not to pursue this,” says Black Lawyers’ president Jason Murray. “Obviously, this is important to the black community. Something very wrong happened here, and the city has all but admitted liability. What we want to know from him is: Why aren’t you doing anything about it?” Barry Sabin, first assistant to Lewis, declined to comment. Among the concerned, Murray says, are association members who work for the U.S. attorney’s office and are frustrated by the official lack of interest. In September, Nathaniel Wilcox, executive director of People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE), told the Daily Business Review that he and other civil rights leaders were assured by Lewis that an investigation was under way. Lewis confirmed the meeting, but declined to discuss what was said. In subsequent interviews, however, key witnesses said they’d never been contacted by any federal authorities. Richard Brown died March 12, 1996, in a hail of 122 bullets fired by heavily armed members of Miami’s SWAT team and Street Narcotics Unit officers. They had raided the small, second-story apartment he shared with his 14-year-old daughter, Janeka, not far from the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building. Brown, who had no criminal record, was hit nine times and died at the scene; his daughter escaped injury by hiding in the bathroom. That’s apparently the most shots ever fired by Miami police during a single incident, ex-Miami Police Chief William O’Brien previously told the Daily Business Review. Police, who staged the 10:30 p.m. raid a few hours after undercover officers reported seeing a black man in Brown’s apartment give someone a plastic bag containing 15 grams of cocaine, claim they fired in response to two shots from a .38 revolver fired by Brown. But Brown’s daughter and her Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attorney, Barbara Heyer, say the dead man didn’t own a .38 and that the gun was planted by police. To back it up, they note the gun was never photographed at the scene, that it bore no fingerprints and that its bullets, said by police to have been fired into the living room from the bedroom, were recovered on the bedroom floor. Likewise, and based on detailed findings contained in a memo written by the city’s own attorney, the record suggests police planted cocaine found on the ground behind the Overtown apartment house and doctored evidence inside the apartment to implicate Brown in drug dealing. “Simply put: The jar of cocaine cannot logically be attributed to Brown,” wrote assistant city attorney Charles Mays in a memo urging the city to settle. Beyond the Mays memo, however, the Black Lawyers Association’s interest has been fueled by a devastating critique of the Miami Police Department’s policies and procedures by former Miami assistant chief Michael Cosgrove. Attorney Heyer hired him as a consultant to examine what happened in the Brown case. “I found the report impressive,” says Gregory Samms, a past president of association who is leading the push for a federal investigation. Written in 1998, the Cosgrove report calls Brown’s slaying “characteristic of an uncontrolled shooting frenzy” that saw officers fire “without reasonable target identification … without a reasonable concern for the safety of others in the apartment and nearby.” A few highlights of the report: � Miami police repeatedly failed to follow model policy established by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Failures included unnecessarily staging the raid at night, not classifying the level of risk in advance, allowing officers to select their raid weapon with no consideration to tactical and safety considerations, not using a bullhorn or telephone to seek advance surrender, not having a uniformed officer in the search team and not videotaping the raid. � No “reasonable attempt” was made by Miami police investigators to resolve contradictory statements about whether officers properly announced themselves at the start of the raid. The lead investigator later indicated he didn’t take statements from neighbors because he thought they didn’t have any information of value. Those witnesses later told investigators for the Brown family they didn’t hear anyone announce, “Police!” before the shooting started. � Despite investigations by homicide, internal affairs and a shooting review board that cleared all involved officers, “no reasonable critical incident review of the circumstances of the shooting death of Mr. Brown was conducted by the Miami Police Department.” The report concludes that Brown didn’t have to die. “It is clear that the personnel of the Miami Police Department are aware of the right thing to do concerning interviewing of witnesses, preservation and collection of evidence, investigating shootings, etc., but do not apply this knowledge to real-time applications,” says Cosgrove’s report.

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