Last month, grand juries cleared two police shooting cases that were brought to them by the State Attorney's Office in Broward County, including a case in which an elderly security guard was killed after he had called police to report a suspicious person.
In September 2012, Earl David Brown, age 73, was securing the grounds of the recycling facility, as he had for the past 35 years, when he reportedly noticed a "prowler" on the grounds. Brown called the Lauderhill Police Department for assistance. But when the cops arrived, they saw Brown, who was armed, and shot him.
Brown was taken to the hospital, where he fought for his life for two weeks until his body finally gave out. In January 2014, the City of Lauderhill paid $300,000 in a wrongful-death settlement to Brown's widowed wife.
Despite the egregious error on the part of Lauderhill Police, a grand jury returned a "no true bill" verdict on May 20, according to the State Attorney's Office, and the officers have been cleared of any potential criminal charges.
The verdict shouldn't come as a surprise. Since 1980, no police officer in Broward County has been criminally charged for fatally shooting a person, a time that has spanned 168 fatal shootings and a fact that got the notice of the New York Times this past weekend, when the paper ran a story about the controversial shooting of Jermaine McBean, who was shot by BSO deputy Peter Peraza. McBean was walking down the street with a camouflage-colored air rifle when Peraza fired on the 33-year-old computer engineer.
Peraza says that he yelled commands and that there was no reason McBean couldn't have heard him. But the Times was given a photo that shows McBean was wearing white earbuds when he was gunned down. BSO never mentioned that in reports after the shooting and even gave Peraza a bravery award for the incident. Still, BSO insists there's no cover-up.
The McBean shooting investigation is pending.
Another case was cleared by the grand jury last month. Michael J. Webb, a gym janitor who robbed banks in his spare time, apparently for fun. In November 2012, Webb robbed a Pompano Beach bank and proceeded to lead police on a chase down I-95. According to BSO at the time, Webb lost control of his vehicle, got out with a gun in his hand, and was shot dead.
In all, including the verdicts from the Brown and Webb shootings, 12 shooting investigations are waiting to be put in front of a grand jury, which is standard procedure under State Attorney Michael Satz.
BSO has the most pending investigations, which isn't surprising given the size of the department. But tiny Hallandale Beach, which has fewer than 90 officers who cover a four-square-mile area, has three pending investigations — 25 percent of all pending investigations in the county — including two shooting victims who were unarmed. The third person shot, Eduardo Prieto, might have had a knife, but reports about the incident have been unclear, and the department will not comment on an open investigation.
See below for a rundown of the other 11 pending investigations.
Decedent: Gregory Ehlers Jr.
Officer: Edward McGovern (Hallandale Beach)
In 2012, Ehlers fled police after shoplifting items from Best Buy and hid on a roof of a home in Hallandale Beach. Officer McGovern shot Ehlers, who was unarmed, three times. The City of Hallandale Beach paid a $150,000 wrongful-death settlement last year. Read more about the story here.
Decedent: Eduardo Prieto
Officers: Timothy Church, Brian Hubbert, Raymond Buckley (Hallandale Beach)
Again in 2012 and again what started out as a shoplifting incident, news reports indicate that Prieto flashed a knife at store employees and then failed to obey police after attempting to leave the area. The Hallandale Beach officers then shot him.
Decedent: Jeffrey Lowry
Officers: Lauren Mager and Cherilyn Valenzuela (Fort Lauderdale)
In 2013, police said Jeffrey Lowry, 43 at the time, was sitting on his front porch when he charged at them with a knife. His wife says, "That's a lie."
Decedent: Jermaine McBean
Officer: Peter Peraza (BSO)
The case was recently covered in the NY Times and NBC News reports below on the new evidence that has brought scrutiny about how police have handled the investigation.
Decedent: Henry Kiner
Officers: DiCristofalo, Lopez, Hays (BSO)
According to the BSO, the shooting went down at the Days Inn at 1595 W. Oakland Park Blvd. just after midnight as the Sheriff's Office Fugitive Squad, Fort Lauderdale Police, and the U.S. Marshals Service were closing in on Henry Kiner.
Kiner, age 27, was wanted for shooting and killing a Fort Lauderdale man on August 11, 2013.
Police say Kiner was shot by law enforcement during the shootout and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Decedent: Jean Nesly Printemps
Officers: Osorio, Smith (Miramar)
Printemps allegedly stole a car at gunpoint in April 2013. Miramar police caught up with him, and Printemps died of gunshot wounds.
Decedent: Lisa Taylor
Officers: Tarala, Hernandez, Hopkins (BSO)
Taylor called 911 and warned that she was about to kill somebody and demanded police come to her house. They did, and Taylor, who had a history of mental illness, had a gun and began a standoff. After she allegedly pointed a gun at police, she was shot dead. It turned out that she had only a BB gun.
Decedent: Andrew Thomas
Officers: Gerardo Lopez, Carlos Gomez, Jason Rotella (BSO)
BSO got a tip that Thomas was about to rob an Allstate insurance office in Pembroke Pines, so they sent the SWAT team to catch him in the act.
Decedent: Derosaran Maharaj
Officer: Paul Yesbeck (BSO)
Maharaj allegedly threatened somebody with a machete. By the time cops came, the mentally ill 51-year-old man had already put the machete in his truck, but he was shot dead.
Decedent: Howard Bowe
Officer: Michael McKenzie (Hallandale Beach)
The tragic case of Howard Bowe was profiled in a recent New Times feature story. Bowe was suspected of being a small-time drug dealer when the Hallandale Beach SWAT team raided his home at 6 o'clock in the morning and shot the unarmed man in his kitchen. The city's SWAT team has a notorious record of raiding homes in Hallandale Beach for small amounts of drugs and has never turned up a substantial drug bust. Often, it doesn't find any drugs at all.
Decedent: Thomas Carberry
Officers: Rick Shawyer, Robert Ferguson (BSO)
According to Carberry's roommates, the man wanted to commit suicide by cop and urged police to shoot him when they arrived. They did.
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Decedent: Marlon Woodstock
Officer: Gregory Loor (Sunrise)
According to Marlon Woodstock's brother, the Sunrise man was mentally ill and off his meds. "If he sees me, he's going to be really hostile," O'Neil Woodstock told the Sentinel. "Any time he's like this, it's because he's off his medication. That's how I know he needs to be Baker Acted."
When police arrived, they say Marlon Woodstock threatened them with a weapon, and they shot him.