City of Miami police shooting ruled "justified"
2/23/2012, 4 a.m.
How will Black community respond? In the past two years, the City of Miami Police Department has been involved in a string of seven fatal shootings of Black men. In five of the shootings, the men shot dead were armed. This week, State prosecutorshave added to the list of vindicated officers. The Miami police officer who fatally shot an armed Overtown man on New Years morning 2011, has been cleared by the State Attorneys Office (SAO). That means that of the seven cases, officers have been cleared in three four cases are still outstanding. According to the SAO, Officer Maurice Sodre was justified in using lethal force against Lynn Weatherspoon, 27. The investigation has determined that the shooting officer was justified in his use of force and no criminal charges will be filed against the subject, said Katherine Fernandez Rundle, state attorney, in a letter to Manuel Orosa, chief of police. Blacks speak up While he agreed that his is only one perspective, the Rev. Willie Sims, 63, political action chairperson for the African-American Council of Christian Clergy (AACCC) and the Baptist Minister Council (BMC) said, My anger is not so much with the officer because I know the split-second decisions officers have to make. Istand in support of the officer. My anger is with the ex-chief who put the officer in that position on New Year's Eve. The AACCC and BMC have about 100 members combined and are made up of citizens concerned about the welfare of the Black community. Through working with the police department and learning their procedures Sims says that the two groups have been able to somewhat make progress. We have been working with the police department and we were instrumental in helping with the dismissal of the chief, he said. They are teaching us through some of their training what their policies on shooting are.When you look at the history of the state attorneys office we have not gotten any favorable rulings, he said. Most of the time they exonerate the officers. We look to the federal courts to help Blacks. City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, 44,District 5 was contacted for a statement but declined comment. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime, 49, District 2, was contacted as well,but said he was involved in a County commission meeting and was unable to comment. Criticism from Blacks stem back to 2010 Miamis Black community has been speaking out since the shootings began back in 2010. Last March, Victor Curry, NAACP president for Miami-Dade County, held a press conference to address the string of shootings. The Mayor, City Manager and [former] Commissioner Richard Dunn know theres a problem with the chief [Miguel A. Exposito, Miamis former police chief], Curry said. They know he isnt qualified. Officer Sodre was part of a SWAT detail that was sent to assist patrol officers responding to gunshots fired on New Years Eve when many people across the city were firing guns to celebrate.Since then, former City of Miami Police Chief Miguel A. Exposito was forced to leave his post following a federal investigation and Manuel Orosa, Miamis newest police chief has taken the reigns of the Department. Orosa has discontinued the practice of using SWAT officers on New Years Eve. By Randy Gricergrice@miamitimesonline.com