The Miami Herald Editorial Board took the safe bet in recommending the incumbent Katherine Fernandez Rundle in the race for Miami-Dade state attorney. While it came as no surprise to the Black community, it was ironic that the Board outlined several reasons why Katherine Fernandez Rundle should not continue to be state attorney — mainly 27 years of failing to effectively prosecute police officers. During Fernandez Rundle’s reign —police officers have raped, killed, beaten and falsely arrested citizens of this community, and very few have been held to account.
The infamous failure to prosecute Darren Rainey’s murder is just one example. Darren Rainey was boiled alive in a shower by his prison guards, who turned the heat of the water up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. His fellow prisoners heard his pleas for help and screams of pain. The case settled for $4.5 million, a sum not paid unless there is clear liability and clear damages. After a five-year investigation, the State Attorney’s Office did not prosecute.
Fernandez Rundle says she could not prosecute because she was hamstrung by the coroner’s report. Subsequent examinations by found that Rainey was clearly boiled alive. This is a weak excuse at best. Anyone with common sense could look at the photos of Darren Rainey and know he did not die of confinement in a shower and schizophrenia. Both the state attorney and the coroner should be held to account. Instead the coroner was promoted, and the Miami Herald endorses Katherine Fernandez Rundle — again.
The recommendation also mentions the case of Hialeah Police Officer Jesus Menocal Jr. who allegedly raped several young girls that he falsely put in custody. How many more young girls have to be raped before the Board thinks change is needed?
The excuse that the state attorney’s office cannot win cases against police officers rings hollow. I myself have won several cases against municipalities for employee/police misconduct by winning on Section 1983 claims, Title VII, false arrest, false detention and overcoming immunity defenses and the Officer’s Bill of Rights. It should come as no surprise that better lawyers than I get similar victories in case after case all over this county. Most of these lawyers practice in small firms and win these cases with limited financial resources. It is impossible for me to imagine the state attorney’s office, with all of its resources and a cadre of lawyers, could not find cases to pursue against officer despite the numerous instances of police misconduct.
I recently reread “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” by Martin Luther King Jr. He bemoaned white moderates, who kept telling him that he needed to be patient, and wait for segregation to eventually end. King demanded the end of the injustice of segregation immediately. I ask the Editorial Board, How many more Black and Hispanics have to suffer before they will come to the realization that justice is needed now.
Reginald J. Clyne, a Miami attorney, is past president of the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association and past chair of the Equal Opportunity Section of the Florida Bar.