STARKE — Robert Patten, whose murder of rookie Miami police officer Nathaniel Broom in September 1981 landed him on Death Row, has died in prison of natural causes.
The 56-year-old had been at the Florida State Prison awaiting execution for the murder since 1989. Patten had been at the prison’s infirmary with an undisclosed ailment before he died Monday, according to a corrections spokeswoman.
“Although Patten will not be put to death for the murder of Officer Broom, he will now have to answer to a higher authority,” Miami Police Maj. Delrish Moss, a department spokesman, said on Tuesday. “This closes a bitter chapter in our city’s history and we can all sleep better knowing this killer will never again walk out streets.”
Broom, 24, was an Army veteran who was raised in Overtown and had wanted to be a police officer since he was a child. After his death, the department named Broom officer of the year.
The death of an African-American officer at the hands of a white armed robber came at a sensitive time in Miami, which had just experienced race riots the year before following the acquittals of officers accused of fatally beating a black motorist.