Fired Miami Cop Reinstated After Shooting Unarmed Man

The detective argued that he was in fear for his life when he fired three shots into Travis McNeil’s car, killing him. 

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A Miami police car in 2010

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Miami Police Department has reinstated a detective who was fired last year after shooting an unarmed black man nearly three years ago, the Miami Herald reports.

The department’s firing of Reynaldo Goyos was overturned Friday after an arbitrator reviewed the case, the Herald writes, and “ordered the department to return him to his job no later than Aug. 13, with full back pay.”

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police, released a statement praising the decision. “Imagine calling the police and in the face of danger, our police officers run and hide,” Ortiz said, according to the Herald. “We have no duty to retreat and as police officers we don’t shy away in the face of danger.” He added: “Unlike some of our policymakers, we aren’t cowards.”

The incident occurred in the winter of 2011, when Goyos reportedly shot and killed Travis McNeil, 28, and wounded his friend Kareem Williams, 30, as they sat in a car in Miami’s Little Haiti community after a brief police chase, the Herald writes.

Goyos, then a six-year veteran of the force, was participating in Operation Southern Tempest, which was trying to remove guns from the city’s streets by targeting gang members, the Herald writes. A number of local and federal agencies were involved in the operation, including the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations. On the evening of the shooting, the operation was monitoring the Take One Lounge on Northeast 79th Street and reportedly was known to be frequented by gang members, the Herald says.

About an hour before the shooting, McNeil and Williams were kicked out of the lounge for reportedly displaying signs of public drunkenness, the report says. They left in McNeil’s Kia Sorrento. That’s when they encountered Goyos. 

Although Goyos’ case did not go to trial, police Chief Manuel Orosa fired him early last year after a department Firearms Review Board ruled the shooting “unjustified” and “said the evidence surrounding the shooting was inconsistent with Goyos’ account of the event, in which he said he saw McNeil grabbing a black object,” according to the Herald.

“The only dark object found in the car was a cellphone, likely McNeil’s,” the Herald writes.

The shooting represented the culmination of a chain of “deadly encounters between Miami police officers and black men,” which generated a loud public uproar and ultimately cost then-Chief Miguel Exposito his job, the Herald writes.

The occurrences also prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, which last year ruled that police “had engaged in a pattern of excessive force in violation of the U.S. Constitution,” the Herald writes. A federal judge began monitoring the force, the report says.

Attempts by the Herald to reach McNeil’s mother, Sheila McNeil, were unsuccessful Saturday, the report says.

Read more at the Miami Herald.

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