Justice Department to Investigate Shootings by Miami Officers

Probe will determine if Miami police violated the civil rights of seven African-American suspects.

Posted: 11/17/2011 12:06 PM EST
former police chief, Miguel Exposito, miami police, shooting

The Justice Department announced Thursday that it has opened a civil investigation into allegations of excessive use of deadly force by members of the city of Miami Police Department in relation to the shooting deaths of seven African-American suspects by officers.
The investigation will seek to determine whether there are systemic violations of the Constitution or federal law by Miami police officers. The investigation is not criminal in nature.

Writes the Associated Press:

The shootings in inner-city Miami, from July 2010 to February 2011, sparked outrage in the Africa-American community and led to protests at City Hall. The NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union, among others, demanded a federal investigation.

The former police chief, Miguel Exposito, defended the shootings as justified and said they resulted from confrontations caused by more aggressive police tactics in high-crime areas plagued by gangs.

Exposito was fired in September and the interim chief, Manuel Orosa, has ordered an exhaustive review of all practices within the department.

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office also has been investigating the shootings.

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)