Two men arrested in the death of a former Army Ranger on Christmas Night at a South Florida casino are free Wednesday after prosecutors dropped all charges.
Kenin Bailey and Mikey Lenard claimed self-defense in the shooting death of Fernando Duarte outside the Miccosukee Resort and Casino in Southwest Miami-Dade. Prosecutors say charges were dropped after witnesses and surveillance video showed the two men were defending themselves.
"In essence, the use of force in this case was justifiable based on the circumstances that occurred," said Bailey's attorney Peter Heller.
The video provided by Miccosukee Police showed Duarte cutting the men off in the parking lot and charging at them while appearing to reach for something. Bailey and Lenard said they thought he had a weapon at the time.
The three men had gotten into a confrontation inside the casino at a poker table when Duarte was kicked out. Initially, tribal police – which have jurisdiction over the area and have battled with officials before when it comes to cases on their land – said the two other men were the aggressors.
A report from the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office reveals that Duarte used the word n***** and other profanity during the dispute with Bailey and Lenard.
The men encountered each other in the parking lot where Duarte accosted the two men, according to the report. Surveillance video showed Duarte making a hand gesture with his fingers simulating a gun.
Minutes later, Duarte uses his car to block Lenard's car. Bailey was in the passenger seat. Lenard reversed the car and surveillance video showed Duarte getting out of his car and running toward Lenard's car. Duarte's friend Kenneth Estevez also got out of his car. That's when Bailey opened fire. He fired 13 shots at both Duarte and Estevez.
Both Bailey and Lenard, who work as security officers, turned themselves into a security guard and the casino and claimed self-defense. Bailey's gun was purchased legally.
A preliminary toxicology found alcohol and cocaine in Duarte's blood.
The case was the first homicide arrest for the Miccosukee Police Department.