Ex-Miami police chief responds to DOJ investigation

Miguel Exposito calls Department of Justice report on officer-involved shooting 'a hatchet job'

MIAMI – Miguel Exposito, the former chief of the Miami Police Department, responded to a Department of Justice investigation that says the police department engaged in a pattern of excessive use of force in shootings of suspects, including seven black men fatally shot by officers over an eight-month period ending in 2011.

"I take exception when people come out and do a hatchet job and that is basically what it is," he said Wednesday.

The department's Civil Rights Division released the findings of an 18-month investigation Tuesday and said it will seek a federal court order to ensure necessary department changes are made permanent and overseen by a judge. That did not happen following a 2002 civil rights probe that also found Miami officers used excessive force.

The investigation began in November 2011, shortly after the firing of Exposito amid an outcry from black community leaders about the shootings. He had created specialized tactical squads that focused intensely on high-crime areas, but also increased the likelihood of violent confrontations.

Exposito said the report offered few details and specifics of individual cases.

"They just threw a blanket, 'Well, these tactical units were out of control.' Well, give some examples," said Exposito. "I think the person who did this investigation has no idea what police work is about."

The report cited 33 officer-involved shooting from 2008 to 2011, during Exposito's tenure and that of his predecessor John Timoney, but the investigators never interviewed either man. Exposito offered to be interviewed in a letter from Feb. 2012.

"It doesn't make any sense that they wouldn't do that," he said. "That is the first thing that you do, especially if the person is volunteering to come in."

Exposito said federal investigators never raised questions after he invited them to sit in on post-operation critiques.

"The fact that they didn't say anything is really important to me, and the fact that they didn't even mention them in this report is important," he said. "I think it's glaring."

Exposito said he's considering drafting a response to the report.