Cop Behind 2 Shootings Once Accused of Domestic Violence

Did Miami Beach Police know this when they hired him?

Ten years before he shot and killed an unarmed tourist on Miami Beach, only to shoot another man four days later, Miami Beach Police Officer Adam Tavss was accused of domestic violence.

A Miami woman he was involved with filed an injunction against him in the Miami-Dade County family court system. It was filed under the “repeat violence” category of the court system, indicating there was a continuous pattern of domestic abuse within the relationship. It was filed three days before Christmas Day in 1999.

But the case ended up being dismissed  two weeks later when neither the woman nor Tavss showed up to the hearing, according to court records.

The original complaint has since been destroyed by the court system, a common practice for older cases, so concrete details of the incidents that led to the complaint are not available within the court system.

And the woman who filed the petition has since married another man and did not respond to an interview request when contacted by NBCMiami.

While this revelation might not necessarily be a smoking gun, it does shed some insight into the 34-year-old man hired by the Miami Beach Police Department three years ago.

And it does raise the question on whether or not the Miami Beach Police Department knew about this incident before hiring him in 2006.

Miami Beach Police spokesman Juan Sanchez said he was not aware of Tavss’ alleged domestic violence incident nor should he because he is not involved with background checks on new recruits.

The Miami Beach Police Department is already being questioned for its controversial decision to allow Tavss back on the beat only four days after he shot and killed an unarmed tourist from Virginia in an incident caught on video.

While policy dictates a police officer be removed from duty for at least 72 hours, in which the officer is required to undergo a psychological evaluation, it is almost unheard of for an officer to become involved in a second shooting on his first day back on duty.

For the brother of the first man killed, it is a slap in the face.

“They didn’t take my brother’s killing serious enough to do a proper investigation,” Samer Shehada said of his brother, Husien, who was killed June 21.

“Four days is not a proper investigation. It’s as if my brother’s killing was a joke.”

And now the family of the second man killed is claiming that a Miami Beach Police Captain informed them their son was not armed at the time he was shot – an allegation police deny.

“Their whole statement is riddled with inconsistencies,” said Sanchez. “They never met with the captain. They met with the sergeant and the lead detective in the case and there was no mention of weapons.”

Police said that Lawrence Raymond McCoy opened fire on officers after carjacking a taxi cab and driving it down the wrong way on the MacArthur Causeway on June 25.

Attorney John Contini, who is representing both families, said the officers chased McCoy 400 yards down the MacArthur Causeway after he had jumped out of the cab. He said they cornered him at Terminal Island and shot him.

Shehada was shot between two to three times. McCoy was shot between nine to 11 times. The other officer involved in the McCoy shooting was Frank Celestre.

In the first incident, Tavss was one of seven officers who approached Shehada and his brother after 911 calls reported two men walking around with guns. The officers ordered the men to put their hands up.

Police say one of the brothers reached for something under his shirt or his pocket,  causing Tavss to fear for his life and open fire, killing Shehada.

Samer Shehada was immediately arrested and charged with domestic violence for an incident that allegedly occurred three hours earlier.

Witnessing the shooting was Derek Reynolds, a doorman at Twist, a nightclub on Washington Avenue. Reynolds says that when the Shehada brothers were confronted by police, the men started cursing at the officers. He also says the officers cursed back.

He says that Husien then reached for his right side, which is when he was shot.

Contini says that Reynolds’ statements are not credible because he has applied to be an officer and has an uncle who works at the Miami Beach Police Department.

However, Reynolds says that he has not applied to the Miami Beach Police Department but acknowledges that he has aspirations to be an officer and will eventually apply at agencies throughout Miami-Dade County, including Miami Beach.

He also acknowledges that his uncle was an officer with the Miami Beach Police Department but retired five years ago.

But he insists these revelations have no bearing on his statements.

Contini says he has been talking to other witnesses who believe the shooting was unjustified. However, he won’t allow reporters to talk to these witnesses because he is saving them for the lawsuit he plans on filing.

So far, the strongest piece of evidence to emerge from the first incident has been the surveillance video from Twist, which shows the Shehada brothers walking down the street, only to be stopped by police.

While the video is grainy and there is no audio, it appears that Husien is lifting his hands. But that has been a point of debate in the comments section of a Miami Beach 411 article about the incident with some people believing he had his hands in the air and some people believing he may have been reaching for something.

But even if it is true that Shehada had been reaching for something, then the obvious question would be: Why didn’t the six other officers open fire?

Carlos Miller is the weekend editor at NBCMiami as well as a senior editor at Miami Beach 411. He also operates the blog Photography is Not a Crime.

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