A Miami police officer whose shooting of an unarmed motorist two years ago capped a string of fatal police encounters that sparked a public outcry and political upheaval was fired on Wednesday.
The reason: a review board finding that officer Reynaldo Goyos used unjustified deadly force when he shot and killed Travis McNeil and wounded friend Kareem Williams as they sat in car at a Little Haiti intersection.
The decision coming seven months after the Miami-Dade state attorneys office declined to prosecute after determining the shooting had not reached the level of criminal intent didnt offer much solace to the victims family. At the McNeil home in Overtown, the mood was subdued and somber.
It doesnt help my son a whole lot, said McNeils mother, Sheila McNeil. Nothing will bring Travis back.
Across town, Fraternal Order of Police President Javier Ortiz blasted a decision that he vowed would not stick. The union intends to appeal.
Ortiz said Goyos, a seven-year veteran taking part in a multiagency undercover gang task force, had been put into harms way by a federal agent driving the vehicle carrying both of them. He also blamed McNeil for his own death, claiming he didnt follow the officers command.
There is no doubt that Officer Goyos will get his job back, said Ortiz.
Chief Manuel Orosa formally announced the firing on Wednesday, nearly two months after the police departments Firearms Review Board concluded the shooting was unjustified.
In a short, seven-paragraph opinion released for the first time, the board found that the evidence surrounding the shooting was inconsistent with Officer Goyos statement. The report said McNeil had been struck in the rear left shoulder blade area, which didnt match with Goyos description that he had approached the car from the passenger side and had seen a black object on Mr. McNeil.
The review board found the shooting was in violation of the departments deadly force policy because neither Goyos nor anyone else was in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury when the officer opened fire.
The review board also ruled that the officer should have never approached the vehicle, but instead should have retreated and followed all training protocols regarding felony stops involving armed subjects or vehicles.
Orosa refused comment pending the appeals process. According to union chief Ortiz, an arbitrator will review the firing and issue a binding decision.
The review board is composed of ranking officers and staff who review every police-involved shooting. As far as anyone could remember Wednesday, the board had never ruled an officer-involved shooting unjustified.
The shooting occurred on a Thursday night in February 2011. Goyos, joined by officers from Hialeah and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, were targeting gang members, some who they believed spent time at a notorious Little River establishment called the Take One Cocktail Lounge on Northeast 79th Street. An hour before midnight McNeil, 28, and Williams, 32, were kicked out of the lounge for being drunk and drove off, but not before an officer in the parking lot radioed other officers that the men were leaving.