The U.S. Justice Department will investigate whether Miami police violated the constitutional rights of seven black men who were shot to death by officers over a recent eight-month span, raising tensions in the inner city and sparking demands for an independent review, reports the Miami Herald. The civil investigation — known as a “pattern and practice'' probe — will examine Miami police policies and training involving deadly force. The goal: to determine if systemic flaws made shootings of black men more likely, rather than unfortunate, last-choice actions, as the officers' supporters maintain.
The investigation was announced Thursday in Miami. “Oh, that's great, great, really good,” said Sheila McNeil, whose unarmed son Travis McNeil, 28, was shot to death in his car in Little Haiti Feb. 10 by Officer Reinaldo Goyo. The officer said McNeil was driving erratically. No weapon was ever found. “I'm just glad to know it's not forgotten,'' McNeil said. But Nathaniel Wilcox, executive director of the advocacy group PULSE, criticized federal authorities for not opening a criminal investigation into the shooting deaths, which occurred from July 2010 to February 2011.