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Home  >  Topics  >  SWAT

March 12, 2004
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Man Killed By Miami Police Was Abusive, Reports Say

By David Ovalle, The Miami Herald

Police suspected Johnny Jean of pumping four bullets into the house of his ex-girlfriend last week, then dousing her home with gasoline in a futile attempt to burn it down.

Authorities said the dispute culminated Wednesday night when a team of officers went to arrest Jean for attempted murder, kidnapping and arson.

After a brief confrontation, detectives said Jean pulled a handgun and shot at two officers, narrowly missing them. Another officer returned fire, killing Jean on the apartment balcony.

Police said they had gotten a tip from another law enforcement agency that Jean would be in apartment 318 at a complex at 2150 NE 169th St.

As officers ushered other occupants out of the apartment, Jean was on the balcony threatening to jump. As officers approached, Jean pulled out a gun and fired, police say.

Police would not release how many shots were fired during the exchange.

Sources close to the investigation identified the officer who fired back as George Festa. He has been put on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

In 2002, Festa was honored as officer of the month for his role in arresting a man who shot six times at another man. His personnel record was not available on Thursday.

DOCUMENTED VIOLENCE

Jean had a history of domestic abuse, according to police and court records.

In 1998, Miami-Dade police arrested him for allegedly beating a woman with a stick. The state attorney's office dropped the case after the woman failed to show up in court.

Last month, Marie Charles, a former live-in girlfriend, told North Miami police that Jean took her cellphone and slapped her.

A day later, Charles told North Miami Beach police that Jean followed her and a male friend to a Home Depot store. Jean ''threatened to cut off her private parts, and Monday was going to be her last day on Earth,'' according to a police report.

On March 1, Charles heard the sound of her house windows shattering. She told police she saw Jean running away. Officers later found what appeared to be four bullets holes in the window of Charles' North Miami Beach house. Part of the house was doused with gasoline.

Afterward, Charles obtained a restraining order, but Jean failed to show up to court to accept it, police said.

In the restraining order petition obtained by The Herald, Charles said Jean was ''obsessed'' with her and had ''harassed, threatened and stalked'' her.

Charles could not be reached for comment Thursday.

NEIGHBORHOOD SHAKEN

This was the second police-involved shooting in that complex in recent months.

On Thanksgiving, a North Miami Beach officer shot and killed a 16-year-old who police say pointed a realistic-looking BB gun at officers.

The officer, Rey Hernandez, has been cleared by police to return to road patrol, but the state attorney's office is still investigating the incident.

The department has come under fire from some members of the black community for other shootings. In 2001, an officer shot a paraplegic convicted drug dealer in a wheelchair four times in the back. The man died.

The state attorney's office cleared the officer, saying that he acted in self-defense because the disabled man pointed the gun over his shoulder.






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