Leonardo Barquin was shot and killed by Miami Police Officer Jorge Espinosa. Barquin was one of two men who burglarized a home. Espinosa arrived and shot Barquin in the back and killed him.
Espinosa gave a statement that he saw Barquin with a gun. No gun was found. The co-defendant gave a statement that neither of the two men had a firearm.
This post is NOT about whether Espinosa had just cause to fire his weapon.
This post is about how the Dade County State Attorneys Office handles police shootings.
Here is what we know: ASA David Ranck was assigned to the shooting. Those of you who know Mr. Ranck know him to be one of the finest, most experienced, honest, and ethical lawyers the SAO has ever been lucky to have.
Mr. Ranck was a career prosecutor with 20 plus years experience when he handled the investigation into this shooting. Or should we say that Mr. Ranck was assigned the shooting. Because when he had the temerity to question whether the shooting was justified HE WAS SUMMARILY REMOVED FROM THE INVESTIGATION.
Secret meetings were held behind his back. When Mr. Ranck refused to clear the officer immediately at the scene (or soon thereafter) Police Major Angus Butler called and complained about Mr. Ranck. Ranck was soon removed from the investigation. He was chastised for telling the lead homicide investigator that he had questions about the shooting. He was told that he had no authority to speak for the State Attorneys Office.
Think about it. An experienced prosecutor is assigned to a police shooting. The deceased is shot in the back. He does not have a firearm. The PBA lawyer representing the Officer is pressuring the homicide investigator to get the prosecutor's position on the matter. The prosecutor responds to a phone call.... and later is removed from the shooting and chastised for doing his job.
But enough about our feelings.
Below is the link to the blockbuster email from Mr. Ranck to all your favorite ASA's. Howard Pohl. Abe Laeser. Don Horn. Kathleen Hoague. Susan Dechovitz.
Here, in Mr. Ranck's own words, are the problems with how the SAO handles police shootings. Draw your own conclusions.
We are left with the sad thought that it is just too bad this came out a few days after the qualifying deadline for State Attorney.
From the Christmas day massacre to possible police shooting cover-ups, to morale lower than President Bush's approval ratings, something just doesn't seem right at the SAO.
See You In Court.
ps. When you go to the site, which is a blogger site, look at the statement under "about me"= "pre-unemployed". That would be a tragedy indeed.
Perhaps the legal community can help here.