The fatal police shooting of a black male a week ago continues to spark outrage in Miami’s African-American community, heightening calls to rein in the police and producing dire warnings that Liberty City is sitting on a powder keg waiting to explode.
The death of Travis McNeil, 28, on Feb. 10 brought to seven the number of black males shot and killed by police since July 2010.
Some residents would
The Rev. Anthony Tate, president of People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, said his group is asking Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, City Manager Tony E. Crapp Jr., and Police Chief Miguel Exposito to review police policies and procedures and dismantle a police task-force which is “going around wreaking havoc in our communities.”
Brian Dennis, executive director of Brothers of the Same Mind, said over the past several weeks he and other members of the NAACP have been meeting with Regalado, Crapp and Exposito to figure out what needs to be done.
“They too are concerned about the powder keg exploding,” Dennis said.
Dennis described the meetings with the city officials as “very tight-lipped,” adding, “Tensions do rise but we cannot expose everything that is said,” he added.
John De Leon, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Greater Miami, described the shootings as “carnage on the streets at the hands of Miami police officers.”
The strong remarks came at a press conference called by the NAACP and the ACLU Tuesday at the studios of WMBM 1490 AM radio station at 13230 NW Seventh Ave., North Miami.
The shootings were also denounced at a candlelight vigil held Tuesday night at Northwest 22nd Street and Second Avenue in Overtown. City Commissioner Richard Dunn, who has been demanding that Esposito be fired, addressed the gathering.
According to reports, McNeil, 28, and his cousin Kareem Williams, 30, had just left a Little Haiti bar when police pulled them over at the corner of North Miami Avenue and Northwest 75th Street. What happened afterwards is still unclear, but reports said Miami Police Detective Reinaldo Goyo opened fire, killing McNeil and critically wounding Williams.
McNeil’s mother, Sheila McNeil, tearfully said at the press conference that her son had been afraid of the police.
His brother, Ronique Robinson, is also mystified. “I never thought my little brother would be killed by police officers,” Robinson said. “I respect the police. I figure you do what’s right and they will protect you. My little brother did not deserve to be murdered.”
Robinson said that his family wants answers. “No one has told us anything,” he said. “It’s senseless and it’s sad. We are consistently being told ‘it’s under investigation.’”
Robinson said after the shooting two Miami police detectives
Patricia Rice, a cousin of Travis McNeil’s, said in an interview that the family was not allowed to identify the body for three days and was merely shown a photo.
Pearline Riceman, another cousin, said police did not notify McNeil’s mother that her son had been shot and killed.
Police, she said, notified the wrong person:
The day after Travis’ death, McNeil said, police officers went to her home and forced all of her family at gunpoint to lie face down on the concrete.
“We were making funeral arrangements,” Ronique Robinson said. “The police threw all of us to the ground and put assault rifles and pistols in our faces. They then said they had the wrong address for a drug bust.”
The family members, McNeil said,
Others speaking at the press conference included Bradford Brown, chairman of the NAACP branch and Howard Simon, president of the ACLU of Florida.
Simon said that the problem was not the African-American community but management of the police department. Under the administration of former Police Chief John Timoney, 22 months went by without the discharge of a weapon, he said, adding, “And now we have seven deaths.”
Brown said police killings in Miami are at a rate 20 times greater than in New York City.
And if Miami can outdo New York City, Curry said,