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The Miami Police Department, stung by the indictment of five officers in the death of a drug suspect, has ordered a sweeping review of its shooting policies and is cooperating with federal authorities as they investigate whether police planted guns in two other fatal confrontations in the 1990s, the Daily Business Review has learned. An eight-member review committee, to be made up of police and private citizens, will examine shooting policies, how shootings are investigated, the need for a civilian review board and how other departments handle police shootings. The panel will also “assess our policy on racial profiling,” a controversial police practice of stopping suspects based on their race. Many departments deny such policies exist. The city has provided federal investigators with homicide and internal affairs investigative files, according to a police official who spoke under the condition of anonymity. Some officers have been served with federal subpoenas, said the official, who declined to name them. The actions follow a federal grand jury indictment of five officers on charges of a cover-up in the 1996 shooting death of Richard O. Brown, an elderly drug suspect killed by police bullets at his apartment in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. “We are currently cooperating with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office as they investigate [Brown's slaying] and other police shootings,” Police Chief Raul Martinez said in a March 22 memo to City Manager Carlos A. Gimenez. “I believe it is important that we must admit publicly that we are concerned about these past cases and that we intend to do everything we possibly can to seek the truth.” The review will investigate “all of our police shootings since 1990,” the memo says. “We will leave ‘no stone unturned’ until we remove all opportunities for misconduct in our current operating procedures and until we correct all areas, under our control, relating to these past problems,” the memo continues. The memo does not provide details of why or how each topic is to be reviewed. It closes with Martinez’s pledge that officers who have “shamed the Miami police badge” will be disciplined or removed. Martinez wants an interim report to the city manager in 90 days. That the city’s top brass takes the still unfolding Miami police scandal very seriously is suggested by Martinez’s requirement that committee members compare what’s happened locally to the notorious scandal at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Ramparts division. The Ramparts case, which continues to play out in court, involves allegations of pervasive corruption by an officer who talked in exchange for a lighter sentence for stealing cocaine from an evidence room. Assistant Miami Chief James W. Chambliss, who will chair the review committee, said the recent indictments have galvanized the department. “With the federal government indicting these five officers that we had previously cleared, that really made us sit up,” said Chambliss. “How do we investigate police shootings? What are our procedures? Do we follow those procedures? Are they good procedures? Those are the kinds of questions we’ll ask.” A federal grand jury charged the five on March 13 with lying and fabricating evidence in a conspiracy to cover up what really happened the night Brown died. The officers are Jose Acuna, Arturo Beguiristain, Ralph Fuentes, Eliezer Lopez and Alejandro Macias. Among the Miami P.D. brass who cleared them was Chief Martinez, who sat as a member of the shooting review board. Several of the officers also were involved in shootings that federal investigators are now probing. Brown, a 72-year-old widower with no criminal record, was preparing for bed when he was shot nine times by Miami SWAT team and Street Narcotics Unit officers. The police were looking for drugs during a March 12, 1996, raid on his second-floor apartment at 1344 NW Seventh Court. Six officers armed with submachine guns and automatic pistols unloaded a total of 122 shots — apparently the most ever fired by city police in a single incident — in response to what they claimed was a pair of shots fired at them first by Brown. All the officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing by homicide, internal affairs, an inquest and a shooting review panel. Last year, however, the city paid $2.5 million — another record — to settle a civil suit brought by Brown family attorney Barbara Heyer of Fort Lauderdale. The pretrial settlement was struck after Heyer collected evidence suggesting that both the .38 revolver attributed to Brown and cocaine that police said was tossed from his apartment window during the raid were actually planted. Assistant City Attorney Charles Mays also wrote a memo contradicting the police version of events and suggesting a cover-up took place. In addition to establishing the review committee, the police chief’s March 22 memo ordered several immediate changes, including an overhaul of the employee evaluation system, a refocusing of the internal inspections process and enhanced ethics training for officers, supervisors and commanders. Likewise, a consultant will be hired to conduct a “comprehensive review” of management of both the police and fire departments. Martinez acknowledges in the memo that police have been under “scrutiny and criticism” since 1997 when a gun was allegedly planted to justify the nonfatal shooting by police of drifter Daniel Hoban in Coconut Grove, Fla. Officer Jesus “Jesse” Aguero was acquitted in state court in early March of planting that gun. Martinez’s memo does not identify which police shootings federal agents are investigating. The department official, however, said two of those cases are: � The Nov. 7, 1995, deaths of Antonio Young and Derrick Wiltshire, both 19, who were gunned down by five plainclothes officers from the Crime Suppression Unit while fleeing the scene of a smash and grab robbery near an Interstate 395 overpass in downtown Miami. Officers Aguero, Israel Gonzalez, John Mervolion, William Hames and Jorge Garcia were cleared by city homicide investigators, internal police inquiries and an inquest; and � the March 23, 1999, fatal shooting of belligerent and suicidal Jesse Stewart Runnels who faced off with police outside his home at 3183 SW 24th St. following an argument with his girlfriend. Boca Raton, Fla., lawyer William Matthewman, who represents Alejandro Macias, one of the officers indicted in the Brown case, denounced the federal inquiry into planted guns. “I think the feds are absolutely barking up the wrong tree in investigating Macias, and that any inference or allegation that a gun was planted in the Runnels shooting is pure hogwash,” Matthewman said. In the I-395 case, police said they opened fire on Young and Wiltshire after the men pointed guns at them. A third suspect who survived the shooting, however, said Young and Wiltshire were unarmed. Handguns with no fingerprints were found near both suspects. Officer Arturo Beguiristain, Mervolion’s partner that night, found the .40-caliber Sig-Sauer semiautomatic pistol next to Young’s body and he picked it up and “stuck it in the back of his waist,” according to a homicide report. The gun allegedly belonging to Wiltshire, a 9 mm Browning, was found in an alley by Officer P. Quintero. Quintero found the gun after Officer Willie Bell told Quintero he’d heard a gun being tossed away by Wiltshire. Beguiristain is among the five officers under indictment for the alleged cover-up in the Brown case. The I-395 case was reopened in 1997 after the Hoban “throwdown” case hit the media spotlight because some of the officers in that case, including Aguero and Mervolion, were also on the scene in Coconut Grove. No state charges were brought. A civil case filed in federal court by relatives of the dead men is on hold pending the related perjury trial of two other officers involved in the case. Runnels was shot to death in his kitchen 73 minutes into a standoff with police and SWAT team officers. Macias was the officer who killed him. Macias said in his sworn statement that he fired a three-shot burst from his MP-5 assault rifle after Runnels pointed a pistol at him. The gun, later found on the ground beneath the kitchen window, turned out to be a toy. In a sworn statement the next day, Macias said that when asked about the shooting immediately after it happened he only acknowledged that he’d shot Runnels. He didn’t explain why he’d fired, or tell anyone Runnels had a gun. Nor was the toy gun, stained with blood, immediately recovered at the scene. That’s because, according to a homicide report, it was temporarily hidden from view by an officer who put an old water heater over it that he used to stand on and peer into the kitchen. As federal agents investigate those cases, so, too will the department’s review committee, whose members will include Chambliss, Deputy Chief Bobby Cheathem, Assistant Chief Ray Martinez, police legal adviser George Wysong, Miami-Dade Police Chief Robert Parker and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Ralph Garcia. Only one of the two civilian members has been appointed, but that person’s name won’t be released until both civilian slots are filled, Chambliss said.

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