DADE COUNTY, FL The Miami-Dade Police Department will no longer investigate itself for criminal wrongdoing in police shootings and deaths in custody.
Instead, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will step in.
The Miami-Dade County Commission voted 9-2 Tuesday to approve an agreement hammered out by Mayor Carlos Gimenez, State Attorney Kathleen Fernandez Rundle and FDLE.
Gimenez proposed the changes earlier this year, in part over concerns about the police investigation into the killing of its own informant — along with three suspected armed home invaders — during a botched 2011 sting operation in the Redland.
Gimenez and Rundle told Team 6 Investigators the change will make the department more transparent and strengthen the community’s trust in the investigations’ conclusions.
Rundle will continue to assess the evidence and decide whether criminal charges will be filed, but that evidence will now be gathered and presented to prosecutors by FDLE – not Miami Dade police.
In June 2011, informant Rosendo Betancourt was shot to death by officers after he was seen on video surrendering, his hands up, then dropping to the ground as ordered by the officers who would shoot him to death 70 seconds later.
One of the officers said he feared Betancourt – who was working with the police – was reaching for a gun.
“There’s a lot in there that’s not believable,” Rundle said of the investigation during an interview with Team 6 Investigators last spring. Prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence in the Miami-Dade Police investigation to support charging any of the officers involved in the four killings.
“There’s a lot in there that just leaves big holes and big questions,” Rundle said. “There’s a lot that’s in all of those findings that says what a terrible operation this was.”
Gimenez said, “Whatever the results are of that particular investigation, it would be viewed as more objective because an agency shouldn’t be investigating itself …. It’s akin to the fox guarding the henhouse.”
Miami Dade police promoted the head of the operation from lieutenant to major, as it continues to investigate whether any internal policies were broken.
Police union president John Rivera opposed bringing FDLE into the investigation.
“We are the elite,“ Rivera told NBC 6. “We’ve never had a problem so, there’s no, you know, it’s sort of like you’re trying to fix the wheel that isn’t broken.”