Miami PD Waits Six Years to Suspend Cop For Shooting Unarmed Man

When Miami SWAT Officer George Diaz fired eight shots into a moving car outside Club Space in 2011, his case should have been clear-cut for internal affairs investigators: Miami cops aren’t allowed to shoot into moving cars because they could cause an accident or hit innocent people inside the vehicle.

But according to documents New Times obtained this week, Diaz wasn’t reprimanded for his actions until this past August — more than six years after he lit up a silver Mercedes-Benz E350 with his department-issued MP5 submachine gun. The department has now suspended the cop for 16 days, though he’s appealing the ruling.

So why did it take so long to suspend him for breaking departmental policies? Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes said the gap is due to the actions of local prosecutors; he says his internal affairs department was hamstrung until State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle decided whether to charge Diaz with a crime.

“We received declination of prosecution from the State Attorney on 9/12/2016,” Llanes tells New Times in a text message. He says MPD moved relatively quickly after that. By March, internal affairs finished its investigation and presented its case before MPD’s Firearms Review Board, which judges whether cops fired their guns legally.

“Discipline was issued after that based on board findings,” Llanes says. (A spokesperson for Rundle’s office didn’t immediately respond to a message about the case.)

This case is actually Diaz’s second controversial shooting incident. Prosecutors declined to charge him with a crime when he and a team of fellow cops fired 27 bullets into a man holding a box cutter, killing him in November 2009. Diaz and another cop, Omar Ayala, refused to speak to state investigators in that case.

That killing came amid a wave of intense scrutiny for MPD after its cops fatally shot seven black men in just eight months, later causing the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation into the department in April 2011. Diaz’s second shooting — when he fired into the moving car — occurred three months later, but he was not suspended for the incident until this year.

The latest case illustrates how the ongoing police-shooting backlog at Rundle’s office gums up the Miami criminal justice system. This past June, New Times reported that Rundle’s office regularly lets shooting-by-cop cases remain open for years — until witnesses vanish, leads go cold, and statutes of limitations for various crimes expire. As of June 15, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office had 59 open police-shooting cases, and 24 of those incidents were older than two years.

Local defense attorneys, justice advocates, and even police chiefs have complained about the backlog, which has existed for the majority of this decade. As long as a case remains open, prosecutors typically prevent lawyers or IA investigators from speaking to witnesses or obtaining evidence from the case file.


If you haven't already, be sure to like our Filming Cops Page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Please visit our sister site Smokers ONLY

Sign Up To Receive Your Free E-Book
‘Advanced Strategies On Filming Police’

About author

Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

You might also like