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Exposito Wants Senate Investigation Of DOJ Report On MPD Shootings

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(Photo Credit: CBS4) Miami Police chief Miguel Exposito was suspended on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011.

(Photo Credit: CBS4) Miami Police chief Miguel Exposito was suspended on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011.

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito asked the U.S. Senate to open an investigation into the recently completed Justice Department investigation of the Miami Police Department during a series of police-involved shootings between 2008 and 2011.

Exposito called the report issued by the DOJ “riddle with inaccuracies, omissions, and baseless conclusions.” The former chief said much of the findings were “nothing more than opinions and innuendos on the part of investigators.”

“I want to set the record straight,” Exposito told CBS4’s Brian Andrews in an exclusive interview. He calls the DOJ results a “smear job” and has written a rebuttal to the DOJ’s findings, running more than a dozen pages, sent to Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.

“If you look at some of the scenarios that they paint there,” said Exposito referring to the DOJ report. “They actually lied about how things happened. You hear the first one and think these officers are out of control.  You hear the second one and you think well they were just doing their job.”

Exposito blames Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, who ultimately had him fired, and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, with whom he said he did not enjoy the warmest of relations, with being the political motivation for DOJ to push through what he called a “flawed” and “sloppy” investigation.

“There was never any community outrage here. The only people who were even making noise about this were the politicians and a handful of activists,” Exposito said.

Exposito also complained that while he offered to take part in the investigation, the DOJ through the U.S. Attorney’s Office never took him up on his offer.

“I think DOJ set out with a premise they were going to find fault with the police department and was worried I was going to shed light on the good things in the department,” he said.  “This is nothing more than a hatchet-job.”

Exposito said the federal court ordered oversight of the Miami Police Department, in the wake of the DOJ findings, will come at a high financial cost to the city.

“The chief will no longer be running the department. He will be answering to whomever is selected, and the Mayor doesn’t care because all he is interested in is getting re-elected, thats why he asked for this, and its going to hurt this community, it really will.”

The Justice Department report said that Miami Police “engages in a pattern or practice of excessive use of force with respect to firearm discharges.”

The DOJ report continued, “Among other findings, our investigation uncovered a number of troubling MPD practices, including deficient tactics and supervision, as well as significant delays and substantive deficiencies in deadly force investigations.”

The review came after a total of 33 police-involved shootings between 2008 and 2011. The Justice Department said Miami Police fully investigated only 24 of the shootings and “has allowed multiple investigations to remain unfinished for three years or longer.”

The Justice Department letter said only 10 of 17 shootings from 2010-2011 have a completed investigation. Justice also said that seven officers participated in over a third of the 33 officer-involved shootings the agency looked at in the review.

The investigation, according to the Justice Department, was “delayed by MPD’s frequent inability to produce necessary documents in a timely fashion.”

Exposito said there are other factors the DOJ should have considered when it was “passing judgment.”

Exposito said in his letter to the Senators that law enforcement was experiencing a “heightened level of violence towards law enforcement officers” during that time.

Miami Police and the Department of Justice aren’t strangers. Justice investigated Miami starting in 2002 over police shootings and other issues. At the time, Justice Department investigators “uncovered serious deficiencies in MPD’s investigative practices and observed that officers’ use of deadly force was sometimes avoidable.”

In 2006, Miami Police had worked on policies to address the first Justice Department investigation and Justice felt it was enough and closed the investigation. Then the wheels came off, according to the Justice Department.

“Unfortunately, many of the systemic problems we believed were fixed have reoccurred, evidenced by a steady rise in officer-involved shootings,” the Justice Department said in its letter to Miami Police.

The current investigation began on November 16, 2011 after Miami Police had shot seven African-American young men during an eight month period from 2010 to 2011. Justice said the investigation looked at roughly 17,000 documents including forensic reports, investigative reports, transcripts, photographs, etc.

According to the Justice Department report, the number of shootings broke down thusly: none in 2003, two in 2004, four in 2005, one in 2006, seven in 2007, eight in 2008, eight in 2009, eight in 2010, nine in 2011.

“While the significant decrease in the number of shootings in 2012 while under increased public scrutiny indicates that MPD may be capable of addressing this problem, it also underscores that the previous spike in officer-involved shootings may have been avoidable, and that continued, court-enforceable oversight is necessary to ensure lasting reforms.”

In addressing one police-involved shooting in 2011 in which a Miami Police officer (who was involved in a 2008 police-involved shooting) shot and killed an unarmed motorist and wounded an unarmed passenger, the DOJ said, “had MPD fully investigated the 2008 shooting, perhaps retraining or other corrective action may have been taken which could have influenced whether the 2011 shooting had to occur.”

The officer involved in the 2011 shooting was Reynaldo Goyos, who was fired by police earlier this year.

Exposito rebukes the DOJ saying that “the driver did not abide by the officer’s commands and this led to his own demise.” Exposito continued saying that “DOJ makes no mention in their report that their failure on the part of the federal agent to correctly perform a felony traffic stop when the vehicle was pulled over, placed the MPD shooting officer in a position of danger.”

The DOJ said that MPD found a 13 percent unjustified shooting rate which the DOJ said is one factor in their determination of “a pattern or practice of unconstitutionally excessive deadly force.”

Exposito said his analysis showed the percentage of unjustified shootings is zero percent and that the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office agreed with him.

According to CBS4’s Jim DeFede, the result of the investigation will be the Miami Police Department will be under federal court supervision for years to come and that a federal judge will have to sign off on any changes once the DOJ and MPD reach an agreement on policies and procedures.

Exposito closed out his review by calling the Justice Department partisan and wasn’t honest in it’s assessment of the facts surrounding the shootings.

“By employing a partisan, distorted, and myopic approach, coupled with unprofessional and unorthodox investigative practices, the Justice Department has done a great disservice to the law-abiding people of Miami, the men and women in law enforcement, and even the families of the decedents, who I trust were anticipating that DOJ would provide objective conclusions based on honest assessments and factual data,” Exposito wrote.

Exposito saidhe’s writing a book and working with CNN on a new crime documentary series that will debut next year.

Calls seeking comments from Senator Rubio, Congresswoman Wilson, and Mayor Regalado were not immediately returned.

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