Miami-Dade County this week agreed to pay $700,000 to the family of a confidential informant shot to death by police during a botched sting in the Redland.
The settlement adds to the $600,000 already paid out in total to the relatives of three other armed robbers who were gunned down in the June 2011 sting. Killed in the slaying: Roger Gonzalez-Valdez Sr., 52; Jorge Lemus, 39; Antonio Andrew, 36; and the confidential informant, Rosendo Betancourt, 39, who had already surrendered.
The Betancourt family lawyers, Andrew Hall and Matt Leto, said police ignored plans to abort the mission once Betancourt was put in harm’s way and forced to go on the raid with the other gunmen.
“Citizens who become confidential informants are entitled to have police protect them at every possible step,” Hall said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Back then, Miami-Dade police had been tracking a crew of violent home-invasion robbers. With Betancourt’s help, robbery detectives had tricked the men into believing there was a sizable marijuana stash inside a home in the 18900 block of Southwest 216th Street.
But the plan to arrest them went awry and in the dark and confusion Miami-Dade’s Special Response Team fatally gunned them down — including Betancourt as he lay on the ground after surrendering.
Last year, Miami-Dade prosecutors declined to bring charges against police but wrote a scathing report criticizing severe flaws in the operation and finding that many of the officers’ actions were “unusual, counter-intuitive, suspicious . . . disturbing.”
Police said Betancourt was supposed to stay behind and not go on the raid. But when SRT officers tried to arrest him, Betancourt dropped his weapon and was laying on the ground when Sgt. Manuel Malgor ordered him to roll over on his back.
Malgor fatally shot the informant, saying the man appeared to reach for his waistband.
“Greatly disturbing,” prosecutors said of Betancourt's killing. But they could not disprove Malgor's claim of fear, though they noted the sergeant could have easily handcuffed the man as he was on his belly.