The latest in a series of fatal police shootings proved a tipping point for Miami City Hall on Monday, where black community leaders and a city commissioner joined the mayor in criticizing embattled Police Chief Miguel Exposito.
Exposito, meanwhile, held a rare get-together with reporters to answer questions about the New Year's Day shooting in Overtown. But he refused to discuss a private meeting with Mayor Tomas Regalado, days after firing off two letters in which he accused Regalado of being in bed with illegal gambling interests.
The shooting death — the sixth of a black male by Miami police since last summer — prompted an angry neighborhood rally Saturday night and increased pressure against Exposito, whose first year in office was marked by public missteps.
But the cascading dissatisfaction with Exposito did not lead to his ouster, as some had speculated could happen Monday, the first day on the job for new City Manager Tony Crapp Jr.
Unlike most department heads, the city charter says the police chief can only be fired for cause — and only by the manager. Crapp, who was sworn in Monday, said he needs time to meet with and evaluate Exposito before making any decisions.
"I'm not going to make a decision based on anything political," said Crapp, who served as Regalado's chief of staff for well over a decade.
The latest controversy flared Saturday when a SWAT team killed 27-year-old Lynn Weatherspoon, a convicted felon who police say pointed a weapon at police.
The killing sparked concern from Miami Commissioner Richard P. Dunn II and others critical of the decision to deploy SWAT absent any tactical emergency. Dunn told The Miami Herald he will ask for Exposito's resignation in two weeks if changes in police command staff in Overtown and Little Haiti are not in place soon.
Exposito, in his first detailed explanation, said the SWAT team was actually a roving patrol that happened upon Weatherspoon.
"The SWAT officers are out wherever there were calls they needed to respond to. We were getting a lot of calls in Overtown that night of gunfire," the chief said. "But they respond citywide wherever there is a need for them to go. If it's Coconut Grove, Little Havana or Flagami, they respond to those calls."
Exposito insisted the deployment was routine: "I will tell you that the way officers were patrolling that night is no different than the way we've been patroling the last four years on New Year's Eve."
The chief's question-and-answer session with the media came after his meeting with Regalado, who said he asked the chief to explain the shooting to the public.
"We need to find a way to diffuse a potential volatile situation," said the mayor, who approved Exposito's appointment but later grew disenchanted.
Read more of this story at MiamiHerald.com