MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Police have fired officer Reyaldo Goyos, saying his actions were unjustified when he shot and killed a 28-year-old man two years ago.
At the same time, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office announced that it would not prosecute the seven-year veteran officer because it said the shooting was justified and said it could not prove that Goyos was not in fear for his life.
The shooting of Travis McNeil and wounding of his cousin Kareem Williams angered many activists when it happened on February 11th of 2011. The incident was the 7th time in 7 months in the inner city when a black man was shot and killed by Miami Police.
The series of shootings angered many activists and happened under the watch of former Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito.
All but two of the men who were shot and killed were armed. But McNeil had no weapon.
He was killed after a traffic stop late at night after he and his cousin had left the Take One Lounge at 75th Street and Miami Avenue.
Williams was shot in the arm, back and stomach.
Goyos fired his weapon after ordering McNeil to show his hands and when he saw McNeil reach down for what turned out to be a cell phone.
“It’s sad and sick that Goyos will not be prosecuted when his own people, the police, said he violated policy,” said Ron Robinson, the brother of Travis McNeil.
Robinson told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “For six to seven police officers to be there and on the scene, why was he the only one who feared for his life. My brother shouldn’t be dead, except for the careless and ill advised judgment of a cop.”
Sheila McNeil, the mother of Travis McNeil, told D’Oench, “I think it was a long time in coming this firing and getting him off the street.”
The Miami Police Firearms Review Board said Goyos was unjustified and said he violated the department’s deadly force policy. The Board said Goyos was not in imminent danger of death or serious injury and said he should have retreated to his vehicle and followed police protocols.
The Review Board further said the authority to carry a weapon “carries enormous responsibility.”
But the State Attorney’s Office said there was a tougher standard involved with prosecuting a crime because it had to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
McNeil’s mother criticized the Miami-Dade State Attorney.
“I don’t know how she came up with this decision when the city said he was violating the firearms policy. It’s like the city said he was wrong but she didn’t see it was wrong,” said Sheila McNeil. “The city just proved he was wrong when they got him off the street.”
McNeil said she had hired an attorney and planned to sue the city.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Javier Ortiz, President of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the shooting was justified and said he would fight for Goyos to get his job back.
He said Goyos as of Wednesday afternoon had not received his termination letter. He said Goyos was not commenting right now.
“It’s very easy to second guess police officers when they have to use deadly force,” said Ortiz. “Until you are in that position no one can say if you are facing an imminent threat or not.”
“Based on the information I have, I have no doubt that he felt McNeil was reaching down for something. It turns out it was a cell phone but it was late at night and it was very dark.”
“When you’re telling someone to put his hands up and he is reaching down and grabbing something and it is dark and it is late at night, you have to make a split second decision to shoot or not shoot. Not only did I feel that he was 100 per cent justified but I would have done the same thing.”
“I would say this has nothing to do with violating department policy,” said Ortiz. “The State Attorney cleared him. This has to do with politics and the Justice Department looking over our shoulder.”