Miami-Dade Officer Killed by Assault Weapon on Third Anniversary of Ban's End, Shootings of Officers on the Rise

Sep 18, 2007, 01:00 ET from Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Miami-Dade Police
 Sergeant Jose Somohano was killed with an AK-47 three years to the day
 after the Federal Assault Weapons ban expired. Today, he will be laid to
 rest. The death of Sgt. Somohano is in addition to the deaths of 54 other
 police officers who have been killed by a firearm in the line of duty so
 far this year.
     "Sgt. Somohano was killed with a previously outlawed weapon that was
 made legal by the United States Congress three years ago to the day of his
 death," said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
 Violence. "Those who blocked renewal of that should consider the
 consequences of their actions, and particularly what the Miami Chief of
 Police has called an 'arms race' between criminals and the police. Our
 police and the public are paying a terrible price for the easy availability
 of dangerous weapons."
     Shawn LaBeet, who was killed by police after a long manhunt, had been
 stockpiling assault weapons like the AK-47 that was used to shoot Sgt.
 Somohano, investigators say. That weapon was outlawed under the Federal
 Assault Weapons Ban, which was allowed to expire on September 13, 2004.
     Miami police leaders, as well as police officials nationwide, are
 reporting significant increases in assault weapons shootings and deaths and
 in assault weapons seizures in criminal investigations. Like the City of
 Miami's Police Department, many other police departments have begun
 providing assault rifles to officers in the field or allowing officers to
 bring their own.
     According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial, there have been 132
 officer fatalities in the U.S. so far this year, with 54 killed by a
 firearm. In all of last year, 145 officers died in the line of duty, 52 due
 to firearms. In 2005, 50 officers were killed with firearms.
     Through Sept 14th of this year police officer deaths exceed the total
 number of officers killed in the line of duty by a firearm in any of the
 last six years. The Law Enforcement Memorial reported in July that the
 first six months of this year were the deadliest first six months for law
 enforcement since the 1970s.
     Last week was particularly tragic, as three officers from Odessa, Texas
 were also killed. Three other Miami-Dade officers were injured in last
 week's shootout in addition to Sgt. Somohano.
     More officers are killed with firearms than through any other single
 cause. According to the most recent FBI report, there has been a steady
 increase in non-fatal assaults on law enforcement with firearms as well. In
 2005, there were 2,145 officers assaulted with a firearm. One hundred
 sixty-one Federal agents were also accosted with firearms that year.
     For continuing insight and comment on the gun issue, read Paul Helmke's
 blog at Visit the Brady Campaign
 website at or
     As the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading
 the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, working with its
 dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is devoted to creating an
 America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at
 school, at work, and in our communities.
     Contact: Peter Hamm, 202-898-0792,

SOURCE Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence