Two Miami-Dade County police officers were justified in shooting and killing 25-year-old Shawn LaBeet — a notorious cop killer with an equally notorious family history — in the stall of a women’s bathroom in Pembroke Pines, a Broward County grand jury concluded in a report released this week.
The report, issued almost seven years after the 2007 shooting, clears Sgt. Humberto Perez and Officer Michael Madruga of criminal wrongdoing.
Grand jurors found that both men acted “within the course and scope of their law enforcement responsibilities” when they killed LaBeet in a volley of gunfire. “Each officer reasonably believed that such deadly force was necessary to defend himself or others not only from bodily harm but from imminent death or great bodily harm,” the report concluded.
On the day he was killed, LaBeet had shot one police officer and wounded three more in a confrontation that began over a traffic violation.
The LaBeet name was infamous in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where his half-brother committed eight murders at a country club in 1972 and also hijacked an American Airlines flight to Cuba.
Shawn LaBeet moved to Florida in the 1990s, but fled to the Virgin Islands after he failed to make a court appearance in the 2002 wounding of his girlfriend. While there, he used the lost ID of Jacksonville resident Kevin Wehner to return to the United States and purchase several firearms.
He first caught the attention of officers as he was speeding and weaving through traffic the morning of Sept. 13, 2007. Living under a stolen identity, with two warrants out for his arrest, LaBeet chose not to stop for the officers. They followed him to a townhouse development in unincorporated Miami-Dade, where LaBeet, wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with an assault rifle and a handgun, began shooting.
He wounded three cops and killed Officer Lazaro Somohano. LaBeet shot Somohano 10 times, the last few while the officer was lying helpless on the ground, which the grand jury described as “effectively executing him in cold blood.”
Following that killing, LaBeet fled with the help of friends and relatives, winding up at a Pembroke Pines condominium. Police traced him to a pool area. While searching the women’s bathroom, Perez and Madruga found their quarry in a stall. After LaBeet warned he would kill them both and reached for his gun, the officers fired 18 to 19 rounds — 15 of which struck LaBeet — through the stall door, which LaBeet tried to kick closed.
LaBeet died of the multiple gunshot wounds.