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Tensions mount after police-involved shooting

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The big news in Broward Thursday was a police-involved shooting. A sheriff's deputy shot and killed Michael Lee Taylor, a 19-year-old murder suspect, while trying to arrest him in Fort Lauderdale.

Taylor was wanted for the murder of Freddy Lee Edwards, 27, of Pompano Beach. Late Saturday, police say, Taylor was in a car that pulled up alongside Edwards' Chevrolet Monte Carlo at a red light in Fort Lauderdale. People in both cars exchanged fire, leaving Edwards shot in the chest.

Arrest warrant in hand, deputies showed up to arrest Taylor outside his grandmother's home in Fort Lauderdale Thursday morning. Their suspect wasn't home, but the deputies decided to stick around. Taylor finally showed up around 11:30 a.m. in a blue pickup truck, BSO said.

Here's where the stories differ:

BSO says Taylor spotted the deputies, got out of the truck and began shooting. "Taylor pulled up and basically ambushed our deputies,'' spokesman Hugh Graf said.

But Taylor's family members and neighbors say he was unarmed. Nicole Holloway, a neighbor, said she saw Taylor come out with his hands up.

BSO responded by saying a gun -- and several casings -- were found at the scene.

It was a recipe for disaster. In the wake of several recent police-involved shootings, relations between police and Fort Lauderdale's black community have less than great. By midday Thursday, dozens of people had gathered at the scene. Some threw rocks. One sheriff's deputy was punched in the face. Another was hit in the face with a bottle. At least two people were arrested, BSO said.

The deputy who fired the shots was placed on administrative leave, standard procedure for any deputy who discharges his or her weapon. Fort Lauderdale police will be investigating the shooting.

Posted by Kathleen McGrory at 03:18 PM on June 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Where's the beef?

Jerky A Miramar gas station clerk became suspicious last month when she saw two men walk in and out of the convenience store six times without buying anything.

Then, shortly after 8 p.m., they returned and left with two bags of Beef Jerky.

Only, they never paid for it.

After the $12 theft, the store clerk called police and reported the crime.

Maybe the beef bandits will be caught. The store has surveillance cameras.

Posted by Jennifer Mooney Piedra at 01:48 PM on June 15, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Healer becomes hero

Dshatz Saturday started as a normal day for Dr. David Shatz (left). On call at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, the veteran trauma surgeon's morning was about to get intense.

He was called to the scene of a grisly accident on the Palmetto Expressway in Hialeah. Shatz's task: Amputate 17-year-old Leonard Sanchez's right arm, so rescuers could free him from underneath his father's cement truck.

Two days later, hospital administrators had to twist Shatz's arm to get the modest doctor to update the media on the case.

I showed up late to the press conference. Shatz was gone, I was told, already back in surgery to work on Sanchez. Then the hospital's PR woman said the last thing I expected: "The doctor will let you scrub in. Let's go to surgery."

Five minutes later and my body covered in hospital scrubs, a nurse warned me not to vomit. She opened the OR door, and there I was.

No need to recount all the sounds and smells. But what does need to be said, I tried to convey in a story on Wednesday's front page: Shatz is a passionate, motivated doc who is sacrificing his own sleep and family to bring some comfort to Sanchez and his parents.

Here's wishing Sanchez a full and speedy recovery. Shatz should be able to say by the end of the week whether he thinks the teenager has enough shoulder tissue remaining to be fitted with a prosthetic arm.

Posted by Evan Benn at 09:37 PM on June 12, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Meow

Videa CATFIGHT!

Posted by David Ovalle at 03:45 PM on June 11, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Paris

Stepha00_henry_dade_ho I'm livid. I agreed to conduct a last-minute interview with MSNBC about the case of missing Stepha Henry, the 22-year-old college grad who went missing May 29 from Miami-Dade. I rushed to MSNBC's studio but a few minutes before the interview, I was told that it was off -- Paris Hilton coverage was more important.

Turns out, I'm not the only one. Miami-Dade police lead spokeswoman Linda O'Brien was canceled by MSNBC the hour before me. She tells me:

"I am upset because MSNBC called me and asked me to go to their studio in Broward County, 30 miles away from my office. I was there for a total of 45 minutes, was already seated and had the mic ready for the interview. As I waiting to be interviewed, I was listening to the Paris Hilton coverage to include discussion to the effect if anybody had seen or knew the whereabouts of her Chihuahua.

"Then they tell me they have to cut the piece, cut my interview because they’re doing constant coverage of Paris Hilton. I’m appalled that a missing woman cannot get even 60 seconds of air time because the priorities of MSNBC was to have footage of the front gates of Paris Hilton’s house. They asked me to come to the interview and I’m going out of my way to do every interview to keep in the public eye that Stepha Henry, a bright beautiful woman, is missing and we need help in this case."

I’m through with cable TV news. It’s a joke.

For her part, O'Brien tells me she will be on NBC's Today Show at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow with reporter Kerry Sanders. Part of the story will focus on TV media coverage of this missing black woman.

Posted by David Ovalle at 02:26 PM on June 8, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (49) | TrackBack (0)

Not the meat he wanted to grill

GrillA Miami-Dade man suffered severe burns when the propane tank to his BBQ grill exploded on him Thursday.

Instinctively, he jumped into his backyard swimming pool for relief from the burns, rescue officials said. Paramedics flew him to Ryder Trauma Center for treatment.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue offers these tips to stay safe around grills:

  • Never use a grill that is not working properly
  • Keep the grill at least 10 feet away from the house or other structures
  • Keep children away from the grill, and never leave it unattended
  • Never use gas or kerosene to light a charcoal fire
  • Do not pour lighter fluid on hot charcoal
  • Never light a grill on a balcony

(Photo is not of the actual incident.)

Posted by Evan Benn at 09:28 PM on June 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

You too can be a cops reporter!

OK, so I only slightly lied in the headline. But there are a few tools we use that you can use too. And trust me, these are super handy.

This one is all about background checks. Think you don't need to background check people? Check out Jennifer Mooney Piedra's chilling tale  about a woman raped by a man who once rented a room from her.

So, background checks. There are two ways to do them, and one is free -- so no excuses allowed.

First is the state's correction's department website. Click on the link for offender search. Then plug in the info you have, usually name and date of birth are enough. Even if the person is on parole, the site will tell you about that. Plus, you get a mugshot to help you recognize someone.

The next option is a bit pricey but more comprehensive. For $23, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will generate a list of all a person's arrests in the state. It's not always 100 percent, but it is pretty close. This will include smaller charges, not leading to prison time, that the correction's website leaves out.

See, don't you feel smarter already?

Posted by Diana Moskovitz at 07:06 PM on June 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Rape victim speaks out

Today, just before lunchtime my cell phone rang.

I didn't recognize the number. But as soon as I heard the voice on the other end, I knew who it was.

"I wanted to talk to you about my case," the woman said to me.

For the next 30 minutes or so, the woman told me about the night she was brutally raped. She spoke mostly about the man, who, she says, committed the violent crime.

Because she's a rape victim, we won't release her real name. Instead, we'll call her Christina.

In early May, Christina, a Broward Community College student in her mid-20s, was looking for someone to rent the other bedroom in her Fort Lauderdale apartment. Her former roommate - a gay man in his 40s - had moved and she needed help paying the rent.

Christina's longtime best friend told her she had the perfect person in mind - a former co-worker at Primo shoes on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.

"She said he was a great guy and that she would live with him," Christina said. "I trusted her instincts."

Kaplan3 A day later, Ronald Kaplan, a 50-year-old shoe salesman, moved into Christina's apartment on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Move-in day was the first time she met him.

At first, she said, he seemed "very nice."

"But then I noticed his strange behavior," Christina said. "He always wanted to have dinner with me. He said we should go wash our clothes together. He started being obsessed with me."

Kaplan also went into her bedroom and looked through her photographs, she said. He even tried befriending some of her friends.

One week after Kaplan moved in, Christina knew the living arrangement wasn't a good one. She asked Kaplan to move out and gave him 24 hours to do so.

She returned his deposit and rent money. He was gone the next day.

Christina thought he was out of her life for good.

"I thought it was a clean break," she said.

But on May 22, Christina's life changed.

At 2:30 a.m., she awoke to Kaplan, crawling naked on the floor beside her bed, she said.

"He was there, looking at me, naked, only wearing socks," she said. "He was ready to attack me."

For the next four hours, Kaplan raped Christina.

She yelled and begged for help. Neighbors later told police they heard her, but did nothing because they thought she was another tenant who regularly fought with her husband.

Christina said she had all sorts of images going through her head during the brutal attack.

There was a phone nearby, but she couldn't get to it because Kaplan threatened to kill her. She wondered why no one was coming to rescue her. She tried to plan an escape.

At about 6:30 a.m., when Kaplan stepped out of the room momentarily, she got the chance.

Christina ran out of her second-floor apartment, screaming for help through the building's hallways. Kaplan was not far behind her.

"He was coming after me," she said.

She was close to jumping off the second floor to the ground level, but just then a neighbor opened his door and let her in.

Kaplan, who has a rapsheet that dates back to 1974, continued running from the complex, as neighbors chased him. But he got away.

Police have spent the past two weeks searching for him, but have not found him. They believe he remains in South Florida and could be staying at local hotels or with friends.

Christina, who says she regularly breaks down in tears when she thinks about what happened to her, worries that other women may be in danger.

"Just knowing that he is out there and thinking that he is going to do this to other girls is the worst part," she said.

Fort Lauderdale police need help from the public in locating Kaplan. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Fort Lauderdale Detective Juan Ho at 954-828-5580 or Broward CrimeStoppers at 954-493-8477.

Posted by Jennifer Mooney Piedra at 06:08 PM on June 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Not exactly a fan site

Delucca Retiring Miami Beach Police Chief Donald De Lucca has a new website -- but not by his own doing. An anonymous webmaster has set up the page that promises that on July 9, once he's officially retired, readers will be able to "view public records and lots of other interesting tidbits" on him.

The unofficial page features of a photo of De Lucca and promises "this site will include a page to post your comments and to express how you really feel about him and his leadership style, and how it has affected you." Cryptic, for sure.

De Lucca is retiring next month and Assistant Chief Carlos Noriega had taken over on an interim basis. Noriega, popular within the ranks, is widely expected to be named Miami Beach's top cop.

Posted by David Ovalle at 02:11 PM on June 7, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Lauderdale police searching for rapist

Kaplan1Fort Lauderdale police are looking for a man, who they say raped a young woman in her Fort Lauderdale apartment last month.

Ronald Kaplan has been on the run since the May 22 rape, said Detective Kathy Collins, a department spokeswoman.

Kaplan, 50, a former shoe salesman, is accused of breaking into an apartment through a window and repeatedly raping a woman in her 20s.

The woman, whose name is not being released, once rented a room to Kaplan, who was referred to her by a childhood friend.

"She thought he was a good guy," Collins said. "Her friend said he'd be like a fatherly type who would watch over her and keep her safe."

But shortly after moving in, Kaplan began prying into the girl's personal life and making sexual advances, Collins said.

The woman asked him to move out, which he did.

But a few days later, he crept into her apartment at 2:30 a.m. and woke her from a deep sleep, Collins said.

For more than two hours, he repeatedly attacked her.

Neighbors told police they heard the woman screaming, but no one called police.

Then, at 4:30 a.m., the woman was able to escape. She ran out of the apartment, naked, toward the safety of a neighbor's home.

As Kaplan ran from the apartment building, a neighbor chased him. But he got away.

Since then, police have been looking for him. They believe he is still in South Florida. He is known to frequent downtown Fort Lauderdale and the beach areas and could be staying in local hotels, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Juan Ho at 954-828-5580 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-8477.

Here is another photo of Kaplan:

Kaplan2_2

Posted by Jennifer Mooney Piedra at 04:42 PM on June 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

 
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