HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) – A newly released report calls into question the deadly actions of several Miami-Dade Police officers three years after a sting operation by Miami-Dade Police went wrong and it left four people dead.
The State Attorney’s Office issued a highly critical, 40-page, report of the police.
While prosecutors were skeptical of the police version of events, they said they didn’t have enough evidence to file criminal charges against the 11 officers.
During the June 2011 sting, a police informant lured a gang of thieves to a remote location in The Redland.
That’s where the gang thought they were going to rip off a wealthy drug dealer.
All three robbers, as well as the informant were gunned down by police, prosecutors found just one of the killings legally justified and wrote “due to a number of unusual, counter-intuitive, suspicious, and/or disturbing factors present in the other three shootings, we cannot state definitively that those shootings were legally justified.”
The case had to do with four men who were connected to a rash of violent home invasions.
Violence that included “the cutting of a scrotum, hammering of fingers, cutting off of fingers, the threatened cutting of children’s fingers in order to get parents to reveal hidden valuables,” according to the State Attorney’s report.
Using the confidential informant, police hatched a plan to catch the men breaking into a foreclosed county owned house.
Three dozen officers, snipers, planes and helicopters were involved.
Something went wrong that is still unclear to this day.
The bad guys took off and officers went charging into the scene.
More than 120 bullets were fired – all from police. There is no evidence the bad guys fired a single shot.
All four men died including the confidential informant who appeared to be surrendering.
In the report it says “infrared video from the aerial surveillance showed him raising his hands as if to surrender and then lying face down on the ground.” It continued, “At some point after the camera was repositioned and the CI was shot, killed by four officers.”
One of the officers claimed he made a move for a gun. Garcia was hit 27 times in what was described as “snowstorm” of bullets.
Another questionable shooting was of Roger Gonzalez Valdez Senior, considered the ringleader.
Prosecutors wrote “This shooting can be seen in three different infrared videos from three different aircraft. It is the most disturbing of all the videos.”
Valdez had dropped his weapon while trying to escape.
He’s seen in green and black video in a fetal position surrounded by four officers. Officers claim he made a move to grab something dark and opened fire. Prosecutors rebut, “At the time that he is shot, Mr. Valdez Sr. appears as a green form that does not appear to be moving.”
The Police Union President wrote off the report saying the State Attorney’s office wasn’t there.
“I’m not willing to Monday morning quarterback like some others are,” John Rivera of the Police Benevolent Association said. With regard to who fired their weapons Rivera felt, “The fact that the bad guys didn’t shoot any bullets, assuming that’s the case, I’m proud of that. I’m glad that our officers were in such an offensive mode that the bad guys didn’t have any opportunity to play offense”
Still, some people may look at this and see 11 officers firing 120-plus bullets into four people could appear excessive.
CBS4’s David Sutta asked, “Was it overkill?” “I don’t know about that. That’s easy to say when you’re not in the heat of battle.” Rivera said.