The Miami Fraternal Order of Police, pushing to get a former Miami police officer rehired, sued the city on his behalf Friday, alleging a review board that recommended the officer’s dismissal met behind closed doors in violation of Florida’s open government laws.
Reynaldo Goyos’ dismissal had been announced last month by police, who said he was fired from the force because he violated department policy by shooting and killing a driver without justification nearly two years ago.
The FOP lawsuit alleges that the city’s firearm review board disregarded Florida's Sunshine Law by conducting a Dec. 5 meeting that wasn't open to the public and for which the city did not provide a notice to the public.
The conference room at the Miami Police Department where the review board meets cannot be accessed by the public without an escort and permission by security officials there, the lawsuit says.
If the city of Miami failed to comply with Florida’s Sunshine Law when the review board met, the lawsuit’s argument goes, the city should be prohibited from accepting the review board’s recommendation to fire Goyos.
“Miami Police Officer Reynaldo Goyos was improperly terminated by the City of Miami Police Department by a review board that violates the law,” FOP President Javier Ortiz said in a statement Friday.
Ortiz added: “It is our goal to cut through all the bureaucratic red tape in order to have a transparent process in which the truth of the actions of our sworn members are explained while we protect their rights under due process.”
Miami Mayor Tomas P. Regalado and Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa declined to comment Friday.
The city’s firearm review board convened last month and found that Officer Reynaldo Goyos opened fire during a traffic stop even though he wasn’t in imminent danger on Feb. 10, 2011, according to a reprimand letter issued by the department against Goyos.
The 28-year-old driver, Travis McNeil, died from being shot once, and the front-seat passenger, Kareem Williams, suffered two gunshot wounds, police said. No weapons were found in their vehicle, police said.
Ortiz said that Goyos had reason to open fire, saying McNeil didn’t follow Goyos’ commands and reached for a dark object that Goyos perceived as a firearm.
Still, the review board found that McNeil was struck in his rear left-shoulder area, and said that such evidence was “inconsistent with Officer Goyos [sic] statement that he saw a black object on Mr. McNeil,” the reprimand letter said.
The review board determined that Goyos violated the department's deadly force policy, which prohibits officers from using deadly force against another person unless they have a reasonable belief that they must protect themselves or another person from imminent danger.
The board added that Goyos shouldn’t have approached the vehicle. It said the officer instead should have “retreated and followed all training protocols” regarding felony stops involving armed suspects or vehicles.