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Miami-Dade cops on trial for killing two Black males

Erick Johnson | 6/23/2014, 10:31 a.m.
A major trial is underway involving two Miami-Dade police officers who were stripped of immunity last week in the controversial ...

THE SHOOTING

Last Friday, Cure told jurors that she was celebrating Knight’s 21st birthday with Blackwood at Coco’s Nightclub, a popular hotspot located at 1430 NW 119th St.

After the celebration, she stated that she and a friend got into a Cadillac SUV that was driven by Blackwood. With Knight in the passenger seat, they dropped off Cure’s friend in Buena Vista, a neighborhood near the Miami Design District. Blackwood then headed north on North Miami Avenue past Northwest 62nd Street. That’s when the three saw a Miami-Dade patrol car make a U-turn to follow them, Cure testified.

Police continued to follow them as they turned right on Northwest 67th Street and Second Avenue. Scared, Cure told Blackwood to turn on 64th Street but he mistakenly turned right on 65th, a dead end street. When Blackwood couldn’t go any further, that’s when police turned on their lights and told the three to come out of the car with their hands up, Cure said.

Cure claimed Robinson and Mendez approached the front driver’s side of the car with their guns drawn. Cure said they began shooting before anyone got out of the car. A picture of the car shows six bullets entered through the driver’s side window, eight more through the windshield.

At some point the Cadillac lurched backward, but at what point during the shooting is under question. Police say the car moved before the shooting, making them feel threatened before they began to fire.

Cure, under testimony, said the car began to move only after Blackwood was shot and killed.

“They had their guns drawn. They told everybody in the car to put their hands up,” Cure testified. “I heard a clink. After the clink I heard gunshots. After the first gunshot I see Frisco slink immediately to the side — he was already dead. That’s when the car started going back. The shot was fired into the driver’s window; it shattered Frisco’s head.”

After the shooting, Cure said she tried to climb out the back window but Mendez yanked her out the rest of the way and forced her to the ground face down, then handcuffed her.

At the hospital, Cure said a female officer told her to have the bullet removed from her thigh against her wishes. After her release, she was taken to police headquarters where she spent seven hours giving a statement. At the trial, Cure has testified that she was never given the opportunity to call her lawyer or was not told that she did not have to comply with the officer’s demand.

Eventually, Cure signed a sworn statement saying the officers fired on Blackwood and Robinson after the car began moving in reverse.

Cure said she asked Blackwood to put the car in park but was ignored. She also suggested the two try to get away from the officers

Some details of the case still remain unclear. Police said they followed the Cadillac because the windows appeared to be illegally tinted. But news agencies reported that police stopped the three after running a red light.

THE DEFENSE

Robinson, and Mendez, both 41, have been on the force since 2004. At the time of the shootings, they were members of the county’s Robbery Intervention Detail. They are still employed as county cops. In April, Robinson was arrested and charged with four counts of driving under the influence after striking a shopping cart that injured two young girls in a South Miami-Dade parking lot.

Jurors will hear testimonies and sort out evidence to determine if the shootings were justified. They will also hear arguments attacking Cure’s conflicting accounts of what happened in her sworn statement and in court last week.

Attorneys will also attack Cure’s credibility. She has prior arrests for grand theft and using false identification and is currently on probation for resisting arrest in Broward County.

CORRECTION: It was incorrectly published that police officer Ryan Robinson was in the passenger seat when in 2007 it was Michael Knight that was in the passenger seat. Both he and Blackwood were shot and killed.