Police Chief Meets Family Of Man Killed By Officers
Updated On: Feb 23 2011 09:29:53 AM EST
Relatives of the most recent man to die at the hands of Miami police officers met with the police chief Wednesday but said they learned nothing new about the shooting.
Travis McNeil, 27, died Feb. 10 after being shot by Miami officers. Family members said McNeil and his cousin, 30-year-old Kareem Williams, had just left a Little Haiti club when a group of undercover officers stopped them at North Miami Avenue and 75th Street.
According to Miami police, it was a traffic stop conducted by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement task force. A Miami police officer working with the task force opened fire following what Miami police described as a "confrontation." McNeil was killed. Williams was shot three times and survived.
McNeil's relatives were optimistic about their scheduled meeting with Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito, and they wanted the answers to some questions.
"What happened with my cousin? That's what we want to know. (His mother) wants to find out what happened. It doesn't make sense how they just shot him down like a dog," said McNeil's cousin, Dartania McNeil. "It's not going to bring Travis back. I don't think it'll help. We will never see him again."
McNeil's mother, Sheila McNeil, spoke to Local 10 after the meeting. She said it was impersonal and lasted about an hour and a half.
"I don't know any more now than I knew last week," she said.
Sheila McNeil said the chief divulged little about why the officer shot and killed her son.
"The meeting was more about us learning the policies and the way things go, which was some help, but it's still not a real answer to what happened to my son," Sheila McNeil said.
"We just want to know what happened to our brother and why did it happen, and hopefully it won't happen to another family," said Travis McNeil's brother, Ron Robinson.
Typically in fatal police-involved shootings, information on whether a person was armed is made public shortly after the incident. In this case, it has been nearly two weeks, and family members said they still do not know why McNeil was pulled over in the first place.
"Why is this case any different?" Local 10's Terrell Forney asked Cmdr. Delrish Moss, of the Miami Police Department.
"What is critical in this case is that we're doing everything that can to make sure we do things right," Moss said. "If that means you'll be waiting for answers a lot longer than you want to, yes."
McNeil was the seventh young black man to be shot and killed by police officers in Miami since July.
Exposito plans to meet with the families of all seven men. Besides McNeil, they are Decarlos Moore, 36, who was shot July 5; Joel Lee Johnson, 16, who was shot Aug. 11; Gibson Belzaire, 21, who was shot Aug. 14; Tarnorris Gaye, 19, who was shot Aug. 20; Brandon Foster, 22, who was shot Dec. 16; and Lynn Weatherspoon, 27, who was shot Jan. 1. Moore's family was scheduled to meet with the chief this week, but the meeting was canceled.
The McNeils said they have found it difficult to explain the shooting to Travis McNeil's 10-year-old son.
"I just want to know what is the secret about this," the child said.
"(Exposito) promised me that he would get to the bottom of this and he had no problem prosecuting his officers if it came to that, and I have to trust and believe in that right now because that's all I really have to hold onto," Sheila McNeil said.
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