MIAMI (CBS4)-The U.S. Department of Justice told a South Florida Congresswoman it was passing along her request to investigate a number of shootings to the appropriate arms of the department for evaluation.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson's request for federal authorities to begin a criminal and civil investigation into the shooting deaths of seven black men by Miami police is moving forward, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
In a mostly procedural move, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich told Wilson in a letter Thursday that he is forwarding the request to the criminal and special litigation sections of the Civil Rights Division, which will, "carefully review the information you have provided to determine what, if any, action is appropriate pursuant to their statutory authority."
Wilson penned a letter in late February to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for his "immediate personal assurance and intervention in the city of Miami's police department's policies, practices and procedures regarding the use of deadly force and the subsequent mandatory investigations following such incidents." At least two of the seven men killed by Miami police had no weapons.
Joining her in the request was the Miami branch of the NAACP, People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality, the ACLU, Miami's Community Relations Board, and Miami Commissioner Richard P. Dunn II.
Police shot and killed seven men over a seven month stretch that began last July, causing community angst and friction between Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito and Mayor Tomas Regalado. Dunn, who like Regalado earlier supported the chief, also fell out of favor with him, and is now seeking his resignation. Exposito has been fighting back on Spanish language television and radio insinuating Regalado is tied to organized crime. He argues the shootings were caused by a turf war created when his officers took gang leaders and weapons off the street.
Meanwhile, City Manager Tony Crapp Jr., the man who will ultimately determine Exposito's fate, hired a retired FBI chief to evaluate police department policy and the chief's work. He has not finished his report. And a police oversight board created through voter approval a decade ago and given subpoena power has asked Exposito to turn over all records related to the first shooting of DeCarlos Moore in Overtown. Moore was shot and killed when he disobeyed an order by police and returned to his car. He had no weapon.
Exposito has denied the panel's request, and Civilian Investigative Panel Attorney Charles Mays is weighing whether to take the chief to court to force his hand.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)
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