In the spring, five Dade County police officers were put on trial in Tampa, before a jury that is invariably described as “all-white.” Much of the public, listening to the reports in newspapers and on television, thought that the officers were going to be convicted. In fact, the trial had serious problems. One prosecutor and four defense attorneys interviewed recently agreed that the courtroom chess game was not necessarily running in the prosecution’s favor. Two jurors told this reporter that the prosecution never presented convincing evidence.
One officer had his case thrown out when the prosecution rested because the judge determined that there had been no evidence presented that could possibly convict him. The other four cases went to the jury. On Saturday, May 17, the jurors found the Dade cops not guilty on all counts. Riots erupted in Miami, killing 18 and causing at least $100 million in damages.
What really happened at the trial? Was this simple racial bias or was something much more complicated happening? Should the media have done a better job of describing what was going on?