Miami-Dade County taxpayers will pay $600,000 to the families of three men who were shot to death in a botched police sting in the Redland three years ago, despite police claims that the shootings were justified.
Without admitting liability, the county has agreed to pay $240,000 each to representatives of Antonio Andrew and Roger Gonzalez Sr., and $120,000 to the survivors of Jorge Lemus, according to documents provided today by the county attorney’s office.
The family of a fourth man killed -- informant Rosendo Betancourt -- did not join in the settlement as they continue to press their wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit in federal court.
The three whose families are settling their claims were lured to a county-owned home on June 30, 2011 by Betancourt, who told them drugs and money were stashed there.
In fact, more than 100 Miami-Dade police officers were setting a trap at the house for a home invasion crew they say was responsible for dozens of attacks.
To read the state attorney's memo closing out the case, click here.
All four of the men were shot to death, including Betancourt, who is seen on aerial surveillance with his hands up, slowly getting on the ground, surrendering, as instructed by officers. Seventy seconds later, he would be shot to death by an officer who said Betancourt reached for a gun in his waistband.
Chief assistant state attorney Don Horn told the Team 6 Investigators he does not believe an officer’s statement that Betancourt did not say anything before, the officer claims, he made a move for his gun. Horn said he expected Betancourt would use a phrase that police knew would identify him as the informant: “I’m going to Disney World.”
But, without evidence to contradict what that and three other officers said in voluntary statements, prosecutors said they could not bring a criminal charge.
Prosecutors determined only the killing of Lemus – shot in the head as he held a handgun when challenged by one officer – was justifiable.
Citing “unusual, counter-intuitive, suspicious and/or disturbing factors,” prosecutors could not say definitively the other three killings were justified. But, they concluded, there was insufficient evidence to support any criminal charge against the officers.