Corruption trial begins for 11 Miami officers as city gets new police chief.
CATHERINE WILSON, Associated Press Writer
     Monday, January 6, 2003 
     ©2003 Associated Press 

          (01-06) 12:36 PST MIAMI (AP) -- 

     Jury selection began Monday in the federal trial of 11 Miami police officers accused of planting guns or otherwise trying to cover up five questionable shootings that left three black men dead. 

     The trial started on the same day that the city installed a new police chief, former Philadelphia Chief John Timoney, who was hired to turn around the scandal-plagued department. 

     The 11 officers were indicted on the basis of information from two retired officers who pleaded guilty to conspiracy in 2001 and are expected to be the prosecution's star witnesses. The defendants are all Hispanic. 

     The defendants are accused of manipulating evidence or covering up crimes by others at five shooting scenes in the late 1990s. 

     Thirty-nine prospective jurors were brought to court to begin jury selection and were questioned about their attitudes toward law enforcement. The trial is expected to last three to five months. 

     In all five police shootings, prosecutors said, guns were planted to make it appear that the suspects were armed. Three suspects were killed by police, and a fourth was wounded. One escaped unharmed. 

     The defense has said the shootings were legitimate. 

     The new police chief said at his swearing-in he will have no tolerance for misconduct. 

     "It is critically important that a police chief support his officers when they are out there doing the right thing," Timoney said. "However, when an officer commits a wrong act with ... evil intent, then there must be no safe harbor for such an individual." 

     Timoney replaces Raul Martinez, who led the city's shooting review board for five years before becoming chief in 2000. Martinez quit in November after a series of stories in The Miami Herald questioned review board rulings that called some shootings justified.


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