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The city of Miami’s beleaguered Police Department saw four of its officers convicted by a federal jury Wednesday of planting a gun on a shooting victim and then lying to cover up their wrongdoing. But prosecutors failed to make their case against seven officers as a six-man, five-woman jury acquitted four and deadlocked on the fates of three others. The judge declared a mistrial on those three defendants. The charges stemmed from four police shootings in the mid-1990s that resulted in the deaths of three people and left another wounded. One victim was 73-year-old drug suspect Richard O. Brown, who died in a hail of 123 bullets at his apartment in the Overtown section of Miami. But ironically, the case that helped draw attention to alleged police misconduct did not result in convictions against any officers. The city’s police chief resigned amid a federal investigation into the shootings last fall. In November, Miami voters authorized the formation of a civilian review board to investigate police shootings. The cases also resulted in a civil rights investigation into the department’s policies and procedures by the U.S. Department of Justice. The four defendants convicted Wednesday on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges were Jesus Aguero, a former officer, as well as current officers Arturo Beguiristain, Jorge Castello and Oscar Ronda. At a press conference outside the courthouse, Assistant U.S. Attorney Allan B. Kaiser, the lead prosecutor in the case, said that in “all probability,” the government would retry those defendants who received mistrials. He appeared before a phalanx of reporters with fellow prosecutor Curt Miner and Ricardo Martinez, the special agent in charge for the FBI in Miami. The agent said he hoped the outcome would restore trust between the community and the police. Despite the jury’s indecisiveness with some defendants, Kaiser said he did not believe the case was “too complex.” He said it is “very tough” to prosecute police officers. Miami attorney Richard Sharpstein, who represented Beguiristain and Castello, said his clients were “wrongfully convicted.” But he said the jury verdicts put the lie to the government’s claim that there was a conspiracy of “roving Hispanic police officers” who recklessly shot at black suspects. Receiving outright acquittals were Rafael Fuentes, Eliezer Lopez and Alejandro Macias, who still faces a trial this spring in another case of alleged gun-planting. The jury could not decide on the guilt or innocence of officers Jorge Garcia, Israel Gonzalez and Jose Quintero. The jury acquitted an 11th officer, Jose Acuna, on two obstruction charges. It remained deadlocked on the overarching conspiracy charge and a third obstruction charge. U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold set a sentencing date of Aug. 22 at 9 a.m. The verdicts were read in the ornate central courtroom of U.S. District Court in Miami, the scene of the drug conspiracy trial against deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. Judge Gold stationed U.S. marshals around the packed courtroom gallery to curb displays of emotion. Earlier this week, Gold dismissed one juror after receiving complaints from the panel that people identifying themselves as journalists had telephoned them at home. The case, which lasted 11 weeks, went to the jury on March 20.

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