South Miami

South Miami residents voice concerns about police department after Nov. 15 shooting

A concerned community crowded South Miami’s commission chambers at 7 p.m. Tuesday, voicing concerns about the city’s police department.

The main item

On a night when several officers were among those recognized for employee service awards, residents came to City Hall to show support for Michael Gavins, who was found unarmed after being shot by a South Miami police officer who followed him on Nov. 15 to a Shell gas station in Coral Gables. Gavins was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell and resisting arrest without violence. He attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s really difficult to stand in this position,” South Miami Police Chief Rene Landa said at the meeting. “I think a lot of chiefs across the country don’t really like being in this position. It’s difficult, when an investigation is fully being done. It’s difficult because there are family members that really deserve answers to questions that need to be answered. I’ve taken the information I have gotten from the Miami-Dade police department and apart from that, gotten a copy of the arrest report.”

“In order to ensure a transparent account of what happened I have formally requested that a formal investigation of the shooting be handled by an outside agency, the Miami-Dade police department. [The officer involved has been] put on a 72-hour administrative leave and reassigned to an administrative assignment until a full investigation can report back on the findings.”

Other business

▪ Madison Square: An ordinance passed 3-2 on first reading, with Commissioners Gabriel Edmond and Walter Harris dissenting, to adjust density caps in the Specialty Retail (SR) zoning districts for affordable and workforce housing projects north of U.S. 1 and within the community redevelopment area boundaries. The ordinance will require a unanimous vote on second reading. Another first reading ordinance passed, with the same vote, approving the construction of more than two stories on the site.

▪ Sylva Martin Building: An ordinance was deferred to amend the designation of the Sylva Martin Building and a parking lot on City Hall property from parks and open space to transit oriented development district (TODD).

▪ Christmas party: The commission unanimously approved a resolution accepting a $500 donation from Volksblast, a not-for-profit corporation, for gifts given at the Christmas party of the Afterschool House program of the South Miami parks and recreation department.

They said it

“There is too much gun carrying, too much threatening, too much shooting. It puts everybody on edge. It puts the citizens on edge. It puts the police on edge. It just turns everything up a dangerous notch, where the citizens are anxious, the police are anxious and accidents are more likely to happen. So I think we need to disarm and we need to work on our youth in particular. To get them to recognize that there are better ways of solving problems. And tell our adults, too, that there are better ways of solving problems.” —Mayor Philip Stoddard

The next meeting

▪ When: 7 p.m. Dec. 15

▪ Where: City Hall, 6130 Sunset Dr., South Miami