Jury selection began Monday for the reputed gang member accused of murdering Miami Detective James Walker in a bizarre case of mistaken identity in January 2008.
Prosecutors say Andrew “Birdman” Rolle, after having fired gunshots at a rival in North Miami Beach, shot and killed Walker after he tried getting into the detective’s car, believing it was his pal’s getaway car.
Rolle, 26, is facing life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. He is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for an unrelated armed robbery conviction in 2013.
Walker, who was not in uniform at the time of his death, was a soft-spoken domestic crimes detective first hired by Miami police in 2000. On the night of Jan. 8, 2008, he had left work and was on his way to his estranged wife’s North Miami Beach apartment.
Unknown to Walker, Rolle also had gone to the area around South Glades Drive and Northeast 17th Avenue looking to exact revenge on a man who had stolen a Tech-9 pistol in a gun deal gone wrong, according to prosecutors.
Rolle’s cohort, driving a white Ford Taurus, dropped him off in an alleyway. After spraying up a street with gunfire, Rolle ran back to the alley and saw a white Taurus. But it was actually Walker’s unmarked police vehicle, according to authorities.
Authorities believe the real getaway car had driven off, and Walker was parking his car when he heard the gunfire.
According to an arrest warrant, Walker rolled down the window and pointed his service pistol at Rolle. The defendant later told a friend that he “intentionally opened fire” on Walker until “the magazine was empty.”
As he ran away, Rolle tossed the AK-47 underneath a nearby car. Investigators later recovered the weapon.
In January 2013, his lawyers asked a judge to throw out the case, saying Rolle was acting in self-defense, never knowing Walker was a police officer. The request was later withdrawn.
Jury selection is expected to last several days, with testimony likely to begin next week before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez.