Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Protesters return as Miami Gardens approves new development plan

Protesters returned to Miami Gardens City Hall Wednesday night voicing their support for the mother of a mentally ill man killed by a Miami Gardens police officer last month and asking for the release of video from the shooting.

The crowd was smaller than the group that showed up to the Feb. 25 council meeting, but multiple members of the Dream Defenders spoke. They read from a list of more than 1,000 residents who signed a petition asking the police department to release the audio and dash-cam video from the Feb. 15 shooting.

“Put yourself of the shoes of every person in this room who has in some way been touched by the life of Lavall Hall,” Jasmine Rogers, a Dream Defenders member, said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mayor Oliver Gilbert said that if Hall’s mother, Catherine Daniels, requested the video in writing they would release it to her, but he said they couldn’t release it to the public based on Florida Statute 406.136.

“We’ll be happy to release the tape to the mother and she can do whatever she wants to with it,” Gilbert said.

The statute states that a photograph or recording that shows someone being killed is exempt from public record with the exception of a surviving spouse, parent or adult child.

Daniels said that she requested the video verbally and in writing when she hired an attorney and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the police department earlier this month.

“Give me some closure. I want closure, please,” Daniels said.

She and the protesters left the meeting shortly after public comment ended, filing out in a straight line and signing as they made their exit.

After the demonstration, council members voted on several items including a partnership between the city’s chamber of commerce and Career Source South Florida to give financial incentives to local businesses that hire Miami Gardens residents.

The agreement also authorized City Manager Cameron Benson to spend $100,000 to provide summer jobs for local teenagers. Career Source South Florida will match the money put up by the city.

Additionally, the council voted to add a new entertainment overlay zoning district to the city’s land development plan.

The district is made up of mostly unused property on Northwest 27th Avenue from Sun Life Stadium and the surrounding areas at Northwest 199th Street south to Northwest 175th Street. The new district also includes the area around Calder Casino and Race Course.

The city hopes the overlay district will help in developing new bars, restaurants and other commercial business along 27th Avenue and especially near the stadium. The zoning supports mixed-use development and lists a maximum height of 10 or 15 stories for buildings, depending on the property.

City staff and council members also saluted Assistant City Manager Vernita Nelson for her work in overseeing the planning and execution of the Jazz in the Gardens music festival.

Mayor Gilbert compared the development of the festival, from a humble concept 10 years ago, to the plans the city has for the entertainment overlay district.

“If we can do that, we can look out over that vacant land right there and we can make it commerce and retail,” Gilbert said.