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Activists Want Answers After Officer Fired, But Not Prosecuted In Fatal Shooting

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Travis McNeal (CBS4)

Travis McNeal (CBS4)

Peter-D'oench-600x450 Peter D'Oench
Peter D'Oench is a reporter for CBS4 News. He came to CBS4 from ...
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South Florida Crime

MIAMI(CBS4) - Activists and a grieving mother are demanding answers after Miami Police Officer Reynaldo Goyos is fired but not prosecuted after he shot and killed an unarmed 28-year-old man during a traffic stop two years ago.

“He was the only officer there on the scene he discharged his firearm,” said the Rev. James Pacley, the President of People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (P.U.L.S.E.) “He should be arrested for murder.”

“There’s no way you can shoot someone in the back and say you felt threatened,” said Sheila McNeal, the mother of Travis McNeal who lost his life on the night of February 11th of 2011.  “What sort of threat could he have been?”

McNeal and activists from P.U.L.S.E. told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that they were upset that no charges against Goyos, a 7-year veteran who was fired on Wednesday.

Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa fired Goyos after a Miami Firearms Review Board found that the shooting was unjustified and that Goyos was not in “imminent danger of death or serious injury.” The Board said Goyos should have retreated and followed police protocol.

It happened after McNeal and his cousin had left the Take One Lounge at North 75th Street and Miami Avenue. His cousin was wounded and survived.

Goyos fired his weapon after ordering McNeal to show his hands. McNeal reached down in his vehicle to grab his cell phone. He was the seventh black man to be shot and killed during a one year period between February 2010 and February 2011 in the inner city.

All but two of the men were armed. It happened during the watch of former Police Chief Miguel Exposito.

The Rev. Anthony Tate said, “I commend the current police chief for showing leadership but officers should only use minimum force to protect human life.”

Tate, the former President of P.U.L.S.E., told D’Oench, “A life was lost. He should be arrested. He violated that policy.”

The Rev. Edward Mitchell said, “That murder was senseless. It was insane.” He said black men in the inner city had been used for “target practice.”

Nathaniel Wilcox, the Executive Director of P.U.L.S.E., said “We commend the current Police Chief for making changes in the police department and not all officers are bad apples. But there are a few bad apples that must be rooted out.”

“It hurts me a lot,” said Sheila McNeal. “It’s as if my son’s life didn’t matter to her. I can’t remember the last time a police officer was cited in a police shooting.”

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle was not commenting on camera but she released a statement, saying “A police department in order to prevail in a discipline case need only prove the violation by a preponderance of evidence.”

Fernandez Rundle said, “The standard of proof for the state in prosecution is of course the highest standard in the law beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.”

On Wednesday, Javier Ortiz, the President of the Fraternal Order of Police, told D’Oench, “Based on the information that I have, there is no doubt that he felt that Mister McNeal was reaching down for something. It turned out to be a cell phone. But it was late at night and dark.”

“It is very easy for the public to second guess police officers but unless you are there, you have no idea whether someone was in imminent danger or not,” said Ortiz.

“When you are told to put your hands up and you see someone reaching to grab something, you have a split second to make a decision. Should I shoot or not shoot? I believe the shooting was justified and I would have done the same thing.”

Ortiz said he would fight for Goyos to get his job back. Goyos has not commented.

Activists say they will continue to speak out.

Fernandez Rundle said, “The standard of proof for the state in prosecution is of course the highest standard in the law beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.”

On Wednesday, Javier Ortiz, the President of the Fraternal Order of Police, told D’Oench, “Based on the information that I have, there is no doubt that he felt that Mister McNeal was reaching down for something. It turned out to be a cell phone. But it was late at night and dark.”

“It is very easy for the public to second guess police officers but unless you are there, you have no idea whether someone was in imminent danger or not,” said Ortiz.

“When you are told to put your hands up and you see someone reaching to grab something, you have a split second to make a decision. Should I shoot or not shoot? I believe the shooting was justified and I would have done the same thing.”

Ortiz said he would fight for Goyos to get his job back. Goyos has not commented.

Activists say they will continue to speak out.

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