Miami-Dade police

Miami-Dade Officer Cleared In Accidental Shooting Of Teen

Prosecutors find no criminal charge is called for because the officer did not realize the weapon he grabbed from his holster was a firearm and not the Taser he intended to use on the unruly foster child.

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The 15-year-old foster child was acting out Thanksgiving morning 2018, and the presence of five Miami-Dade police officers did not calm things down.

When officers tried to approach, the boy hit one officer, Ronald Neubauer, twice in the head, police reported.

So Neubauer, a 26-year veteran at the time, reached for his Taser and deployed it in the child's direction.

Unfortunately for the child, Neubauer mistakenly grabbed his Glock firearm instead of the Taser and pulled the trigger before realizing his mistake.

"Oh f---" he said instantly, before almost immediately telling a supervisor about firing a bullet into the lower back of the boy, who law enforcement says has since recovered from his injury.

Applying those facts to case law about what constitutes culpable negligence or attempted manslaughter, the office of state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle declined this month to file a criminal charge against the officer.

While finding Neubaurer's actions "clearly negligent," that "simple negligence is not enough to convict a person of a crime," prosecutors wrote in their closeout memo.

Had Neubauer been impaired by drugs or alcohol, played recklessly with the weapon or shown animosity or ill will toward the victim, a criminal charge could have been supported, prosecutors said.

Without evidence the officer was "consciously aware he was armed with a firearm instead of a Taser," they could not prove he acted with culpable negligence, the standard required for a criminal charge.

Eight months earlier, Neubauer used both his Taser and then his firearm against a suspect who grabbed his partner's Taser and pointed at Neubauer. Because he reasonably believed lives were in danger if the suspect used the Taser against him or others, prosecutors found, he was justified in using force to shoot the man, who also survived.

Neubauer was placed on administrative leave with pay after the Thanksgiving Day shooting; the department has not answered an inquiry seeking his current status.

Now that the criminal investigation is over, the department can begin administrative proceedings to determine if he should be disciplined internally.

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