David Ovalle, The Miami Herald, March 14, 2013
Luis Gonzalez, once shot and wounded during the 1980 race riots that rocked Miami, is guilty of targeting two black men because of their race, jurors decided Thursday.
Prosecutors say Gonzalez, still seething over being shot in the back by a black man during the 1980 McDuffie riots, grew upset when he saw two young black men walking through a parking lot in the heavily Hispanic city of Hialeah.
Angered because “they looked arrogant,” Gonzalez tried to reverse his pickup truck into Andy Alexander and Travas James. Fearing for their lives, James pulled a .22-caliber pistol from his pocket and shot Gonzalez in the neck.
Prosecutors ruled the use of the gun as justified.
On Thursday, the racially mixed jury convicted Gonzalez, 51, of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with prejudice.
“It’s a great day for the people of Miami-Dade and justice for Andy and Travas,” said prosecutor Breezye Telfair said. “As county, we must be mindful that for some, the wounds of 1980 have not healed and today’s verdict maybe can help us all begin to heal.”
Gonzalez initially told police that the two men robbed him. He later changed his story, saying he just wanted to scare the men, prosecutor Manolo Reboso told jurors during trial.
But his defense attorneys insisted that Gonzalez was indeed the victim of an attempted robbery by “two young hip hop punks.”
Alexander and James said they were on their way to a security guard class when their SUV broke down in Hialeah. As they waited for their car to be repaired, the men walked to a nearby Walgreens for change.
On their way back, outside a pizza joint, Gonzalez began yelling racial slurs, demanding to know whey they were in Hialeah, before gunning his truck at them. The truck barely missed Alexander as James shot Gonzalez.