“I wish it was that easy to get my son back.”
Last year Officer Reynaldo Goyos was fired from the Miami Police Department for using “unjustifiable force” when killing Travis McNeil and injuring the man’s cousin, Kareem William. The officer is now back on duty and the city will have to pay him $72,000 in back pay.
On February 10, 2011 a routine traffic stop turned deadly when Officer Goyos pulled over 28 year old McNeil and his cousin in an unmarked police car.
The two men were leaving a strip club that federal local task forces were investigating for gang activity and drugs.
Goyos claimed both men had their hands in their laps, but McNeil did not obey commands to put his hands up when he reached down to pick up his cell phone.
Randy Berg, a civil rights lawyer representing the family believes it may have fallen off McNeil’s lap when he went to put his hands up, and like most of us would do, he reached to pick it up.
Goyos, apparently unable to tell the difference between a cellphone and a gun, opened fire on the men. McNeil was hit once and died, while William was shot twice and survived.
“I was in fear for my life, in fear for my partner’s life and that’s when I fired three shots at the driver,” Goyos explained in his 2012 internal affairs interview.
“What occurred with Travis McNeil was at best a traffic stop and it should have been handled like a traffic stop, not like it was predetermined that these are dangerous men who had weapons who were out to harm law enforcement. That wasn’t the case at all.” Berg told WLRN.
Two years later, after being found to have used “an unjustifiable use of force.” by an internal review board, Goyos was fired from the department.
Criminal charges were never pressed, despite the only criminal infractions possibly committed by McNeil were possibly driving under the influence and resisting arrest without violence by disobeying commands.
One month ago Goyos returned to duty.
Despite an overwhelming amount of questionable executions by Florida police, and countless protests since the 90s, not a single officer has been charged with using deadly force in the past 20 years, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The system is intended to protect police. When investigations are done behind the thin blue line, by the departments themselves, how can anyone expect justice?
“When you are charging a police officer with a crime, you are essentially asking most jurors to look at the world upside down: The good guys are in the defendant’s spot, prosecuting police officers successfully is a difficult task even in the strongest cases.” David A. Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who specializes in law enforcement behavior told the Times.