DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—A police officer who shot and killed a Delray Beach teenager won’t face criminal charges.
A grand jury ruled Wednesday that the shooting was justified.
With the announcement, two days of grand jury testimony came to an end, and Delray Beach Police Officer Darren Cogoni was cleared in the shooting death of Jarrod Miller, 16.
Cogoni, a rookie officer, has been on paid administrative leave since the February shooting. He was working a security detail at the Delray Beach Full Service Center when Miller, who didn’t have a license, drove erratically toward a group of students at a school dance.
Cogoni fired two shots. One struck miller in the head. In April, a judge at a public inquest suggested Cogoni be charged with manslaughter.
But Palm Beach County Commissioner Addie Greene said the shooting was, and still is, a racial issue.
“We can no longer stand here now and expect the system to work for us,” Greene said. “I’m no longer going to ask my young black men to be passive. I’ll no longer ask young black men, ‘When you see law enforcement, run, or put your hands in your pockets.’ No. (Now, the message is), ‘Go where there’s the biggest crowd you can find,’ because if he doesn’t he will be killed.”
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Deana Poole, Palm Beach Post, Aug. 23
WEST PALM BEACH—About 60 members of the county’s police union called for Commissioner Addie Greene’s resignation Monday, angered by remarks she made after a grand jury cleared a Delray Beach officer in the shooting death of 16-year-old Jerrod Miller.
At a news conference, Greene was met by members of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association who said she was “preaching hate,” was a racist and was disrespectful to members of law enforcement. They wore T-shirts that said “Addie Must Resign,” shouted comments and chanted “Resign. Resign. Resign.”
Afterward, Greene flatly rejected their demands and said their behavior was rude and disrespectful: “The only thing they left at home was the sheet.”
Members of the Police Benevolent Association, politically powerful in local and state elections, say they have a problem with an elected official encouraging black youth who are approached by officers to “run and find the biggest crowd of people. If he doesn’t, he will be killed.” Greene made the statement to The Palm Beach Post and other news media last week.
“Your arrogance disgusts me. I’ll tell you that right now,” shouted one officer.
“This is my press conference, sir, and you are disrespecting me,” Greene said. “You are disrespecting me.”
Another officer chimed in: “Your views are extremely distorted. And I’m glad that you got up before everybody here and admitted that your comments are racially motivated.”
Linda Johnson, area director for the NAACP, spoke to the crowd: “Why do we want to investigate the messenger, and not the message? What we’re failing to realize is there is a message here. If there is a concern regarding our youth and our local community, that’s something we need to address.
“I want you all to understand that we have a great concern here and it’s the message,” Johnson said.
An officer in the crowd asked: “Addie Greene’s racist?”
Johnson replied: “That’s your message.”
Kazanjian apologized for his “Boston accent.” But it only got worse. Further exchanges between officers and the black leaders included:
“You hate white people, that’s the bottom line.”
“You kill black children.”
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