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Miami Prosecutor: Police Shooting Cases Linger Too Long

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Having just closed the case on a police shooting that occurred more than eight years ago, Miami's top prosecutor said her office takes "far too long" to investigate shootings involving police officers.

In a statement Wednesday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said her office will post regular status updates on its website about shooting investigations involving law enforcement officers, the Miami Heraldreported .

The State Attorney's Office said it has 48 open cases involving police shootings. Rundle says "the important consideration of timeliness has suffered" amid efforts to complete thorough and transparent investigations into whether the shootings were justified or if officers should face criminal charges.

"Historically police-involved shooting investigations have taken my prosecutors far too long to resolve," Rundle says.

The announcement came as prosecutors said they had cleared two Miami Beach officers and a police public service aide in the 2009 death of 29-year-old Lawrence McCoy. McCoy was shot after carjacking a taxicab. Investigators said he didn't have a gun, although the taxi driver told a 911 dispatcher that McCoy was armed.

Under Miami-Dade's policy, prosecutors say they want to finish their legal analysis within 90 days after the evidence and reports are collected. But such reports are almost never finished that quickly. Unlike most Florida counties, Miami-Dade produces exhaustive written reports on each police-involved shooting.

The new website status updates will not include details of the ongoing investigations, but will outline what documents are still needed from police, Rundle says. The page will be updated every three months.

In addition, every three months a committee of senior prosecutors will summon individual prosecutors assigned to each shooting case to gauge progress of the investigations.

"Good intentions and hard work alone are not enough to bring knowledge and closure to the families of the deceased and to the members of our community," Rundle said in her statement. "It is my commitment to continue to improve our communications and transparency."