Court Rules Miami Dade Police Responsible in Shooting Death of Young African American Man

Mar 01, 2011, 07:14 ET from Law Offices of Chavez & De Leon

MIAMI, March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011 @ 11 AM


Law Offices of Chavez & De Leon. P.A.

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In a community rocked by a spate of police shootings of young African American men in the inner city, Miami Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas in an unprecedented ruling found Miami Dade Police Officer Carol McKinnon violated the Constitutional rights of Rudy Morris when she shot him in the back while Mr. Morris was running away from her, unarmed.  

Ray Taseff, lead counsel for the family of Mr. Morris, stated: "This tragedy did not have to happen.  Police cannot use deadly force to capture unarmed people who pose no threat of violence to the officer or the public.  Miami-Dade police must be better trained."    

Judge Thomas wrote in his decision:

"Officer McKinnon should have known the clearly established law in the State of Florida is you cannot shoot an unarmed suspect in the back while the man is running away… [such conduct is] a violation of the Fourth Amendment."

Mary Williams, Mr. Morris' mother said: "This fight is to make sure this does not happen to other young men and their families.  This is an important step in the long road for justice for our family"

On June 12, 2005, at approximately 7:50 p.m., Morris entered "The Eighteenth Avenue Market," an open convenience store located at 6600 N.W. 18th Avenue, in Miami.  Mr. Morris was unarmed. Officers Carol McKinnon and Guipson Balthazar of the Miami Dade Police Department entered the store to investigate Mr. Morris's connection to a stolen car.  Upon seeing Mr. Morris, the officers ordered him to the ground.  Officer Balthazar stood over and straddled Mr. Morris to handcuff him.  Mr. Morris then raised his back.  Officer Balthazar responded by simply pushing Mr. Morris down with his foot.  Inexplicably, while her partner was standing directly over Morris, Officer McKinnon reacted by drawing her taser and firing at Mr. Morris.  She missed Morris, and struck her partner, Officer Balthazar, in the leg.  

Mr. Morris ran past Officer McKinnon. Morris was unarmed.  From behind, McKinnon drew her service revolver and shot Morris twice, once in back and once in the back of the elbow. Mr. Morris fell near the front door to the store. Mr. Morris exclaimed just before he died, "You didn't have to shoot me."  

Judge Thomas held that the use of deadly force was unjustified because as Mr. Morris was running away from the officer, arms raised, unarmed, did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical harm to the officers or to the public.

John de Leon, Law Offices of Chavez & De Leon, co-counsel to the Morris family stated:  "This case is important not only for Mr. Morris' family, but is a message that should ring loud and clear in light of the recent shootings in our community."

SOURCE Law Offices of Chavez & De Leon