MIAMI (CBS4) – The CBS4 I-Team has learned that internal reviews may have raised questions about two different shootings involving Miami police officers.
That news come amid calls by at least one city commissioner for Miami’s Police Chief Miguel Exposito to step down.
CBS4 I-Team investigative reporter Stephen Stock learned that the shooting of an armed felon on New Year’s Day by a SWAT officer was the sixth fatal shooting involving a Miami police officer in the last year.
And two different mid-level police sources now tell the CBS4 I-Team that at least two of those six police involved fatal shootings have raised “questions” and “eyebrows” among investigators internally at the Miami Police Department.
“Unfortunately this city is almost being pushed back 25, 30 years,” said Miami City Commissioner Richard Dunn. “This is not good for anyone.”
City Commissioner Dunn, who represents District 5 covering the north side of Miami, says the fact that any questions surround these shootings has undermined the community’s faith in the current police administration and in Chief Miguel Exposito.
“I believe, honestly, at this point to the best interests of the city as a whole it would be good for the chief to move on,” said Commissioner Dunn.
“I think there’s a perception that a community has been targeted,” said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado.
Mayor Regalado, formerly a once strong supporter of Chief Exposito but now openly clashing with the chief, wouldn’t go as far as Commissioner Dunn and call for Exposito to step aside. Instead, Mayor Regalado told the I-Team he’d wait until the new city manager completes an evaluation of Chief Exposito before taking a stand.
“I think the community is asking for explanations about why the protocol and the tactics have changed (in) this administration (from) the past administration,” said Mayor Regalado.
Before Miguel Exposito became police chief, in the previous Miami Police Administration under Chief John Timoney officers did not fire their weapon once during a 22 month span.
But another former Miami Police Chief, Ken Harms, said it’s unfair and inaccurate to draw such a comparison. Harms said that under Chief Timoney officers on the street were less aggressive in responding to calls in high crime and violent areas.
“I think there’s a greater emphasis (under Chief Exposito) on trying to bring some of the areas hardest hit by crime under control,” said former chief Harms.
And that Harms said, means more confrontations between police officers and violent criminals.
“A good example of that is that there’s more than twice the number of weapons confiscated off the street than there was last year,” Harms said.
Mayor Regalado did say the current police department as well as his office and city hall must become more open and transparent about what’s been going on.
“I’m very concerned. Because the level of the political discourse is increasing and increasing and tensions are higher than ever than in the last two decades. And we have to address that,” said Mayor Regalado. “What is happening here is we don’t want Miami to go back to the 80’s or the 70’s. It seems we have to do something about it.”
Former police chief Harms says all this current criticism is misguided and political.
Harms cautions against rushing to judgment saying that leaders and the community should wait until investigations into all the different shootings is completed and made public.
“Clearly in my mind the officers with the Miami Police Department are focusing a lot of their resources, time and energy into high crime neighborhoods and that is where the majority of shootings have occurred,” said Harms.
CBS4 tried to get Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito to talk about all this, but Exposito’s office said he was unavailable for an interview and would not have any further comment.