City of Miami

Miami review panel clears police in shooting

 

ngreen@miamiherald.com

The civilian independent agency that reviews Miami Police Department actions has cleared five officers in the shooting death of an armed Little Haiti man in 2010.

The Civilian Investigative Panel’s independent counsel found that the officers’ use of deadly force was reasonable and not excessive.

Gibson Belizaire was fatally shot by police Aug. 14, 2010, in a gun battle near a Little Haiti auto body shop.

Accounts by police and witnesses showed Belizaire repeatedly shot at officers, at one point changing his magazine clip to continue firing, said Charles Mays, the CIP’s independent counsel, at a meeting Tuesday.

“The report speaks for itself,” Mays said.

Officers Jason Clifford, Andre Mathis, Pierre Cazassus, George Diaz and Eric Guzman had already been cleared of wrongdoing by Miami-Dade prosecutors.

Belizaire was one of seven black men killed in the inner city by Miami police between July 2010 and February 2011. The shootings led to an escalation of racial tensions — in two of the seven shootings, the men shot dead were unarmed.

A coalition of community organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, called on the civilian panel to conduct an independent review of each case.

So far, Belizaire’s is the second of the seven cases the CIP has closed. Last year, the CIP exonerated officer Joseph Marin for the shooting death of Decarlos Moore. State prosecutors had already cleared Marin in 2011.

According to the investigation, Moore got out of his car before he could be pulled over by Marin, then a rookie. When Marin ran Moore’s license plate though a national database, it showed the car might have been stolen.

Moore reached into his car and Marin saw a shiny metallic object. Marin shot Moore in the head, killing him.

Investigators later found that the shiny object was rock cocaine wrapped in aluminum foil. The investigation also showed the car had not been stolen.

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