officer who shot homeless man convicted in coverup [Miami, FL]

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 9 Feb 1998 05:57:59 -0800 (PST)


FWD Feb 3, 1998 by Amy Driscoll, Miami Herald Staff Writer


OFFICER CONVICTED IN COVERUP
He was accused of lying in Miami gun-planting incident
[after shoting an unaarmed homeless man]


A Miami Police officer caught in a gun-planting scandal was convicted
Monday night of official misconduct for his part in a police shooting
coverup.

Officer Rolando Jacobo, a 14-year veteran of the force and a member of the
street narcotics unit, was found guilty of the third-degree felony after
jurors deliberated for an hour and a half.

Prosecutors said Jacobo played a key role in a staged crime scene after an
unarmed homeless man was shot in Coconut Grove last June 26. Jacobo wrote
in his police report that 44-year-old Daniel Hoban, the homeless man, had
pointed a gun at Jacobo and his partner for the night, Jorge Castello.

Castello shot Hoban, hitting him once in the leg.

Hoban insisted he had no gun, and witnesses said they didn't see a gun at
the scene for the first 20 minutes after the 8 p.m. shooting.

A gun later was found half under a parked car nearby. A partial fingerprint
of another police officer -- Jesse Aguero -- was found on the gun.

Prosecutors told jurors in closing arguments Monday that the gun was
planted at the scene after officers realized Hoban had actually been
holding a radio, not a gun.

Assistant State Attorney Reid Rubin said Jacobo was trying to ``cover the
backside of his partner.''

``He chose loyalty over integrity in this case,'' Rubin said. ``It's the
code of silence.''

But defense attorney Neil Taylor told jurors that the question to be
answered was whether they believed Jacobo knew that Hoban was unarmed. ``If
the report is inaccurate, as long as he believed it, there's no crime,''
Taylor said.

Prosecutors insisted that Jacobo deliberately lied. On the police report
form, he checked the box for ``weapon seized.''

``That man betrayed his oath and disgraced his shield,'' Rubin said.

Miami Police Chief Donald Warshaw said Monday night that he hopes this
verdict will encourage officers who didn't give statements in the case to
change their minds.

``Something happened in Coconut Grove that should not have happened,'' he
said. ``It's always been my intent to find out what it was; that's why we
pursued this. While this is a sad day for me and the police department, I
still want to find out what happened that night and make sure it never
happens
again.''

Jacobo is one of three officers charged in the gun-planting scandal. He is
scheduled for sentencing March 9 in front of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge
Leonard Glick.


[Herald staff writer Gail Epstein contributed to this report.]

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