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Maurice Sodre Will Not Be Charged In Fatal Shooting Of Lynn Weatherspoon

Swat Team

First Posted: 02/21/2012 4:28 pm Updated: 02/21/2012 4:28 pm

Miami police officer Maurice Sodre was justified in using deadly force when he fatally shot Lynn Weatherspoon in Overtown last New Year's Eve, according to the State Attorney's Office.

The 2011 shooting led to an ongoing federal investigation of the city's police department after Weatherspoon and 6 other black males were killed in just seven months by what some called an overly-aggressive police force.

Weatherspoon's death also called into question the MPD's tactic of sending SWAT teams in unmarked trucks into inner cities to confront celebratory holiday gun fire on New Year's Eve.

According to State Attorney's Office's memo, Sodre and other officers said Weatherspoon was shot running from police after dropping a gun and reaching for it despite police warnings.

The prosecutor's memo acknowledges that no one said or saw Weatherspoon point a firearm at officers.

They also note that civilian eyewitness accounts state that Weatherspoon was walking and not running. No civilian witness reported seeing any gun, contradicting the officers' account.

In the end, State Attorney prosecutors say they were convinced that Sodre should not be criminally charged based on the physical evidence at the scene. The report notes:

The Rugger found near Weatherspoon's outstretched hand had his DNA on it. Such evidence gives rise to the logical inference that the Ruger found nearby was the same Ruger dripped and reached for by Weatherspoon just prior to Officer Sodre discharging his weapon.

Based on the evidence and the inferences, it is reasonable to believe that an officer positioned the same as the shooting officer, with similar experience and background, may have made the decision to shoot.

Although the State Attorney's office does not fault Officer Sodre, they do question the tactics of then-police chief Miguel Exposito:

"It is our reasoned opinion that the policy that placed SWAT Officer Sodre in the position of shooting Lynn Weatherspoon on New Years Eve be evaluated in light of the resulting police-involved shooting."

The new Miami police chief Manuel Orosa has since discontinued the use of SWAT officers on New Year's Eve.

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Filed by Amanda McCorquodale  |