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Miami Police Shoot, Kill Homeless Man

Tue., Sept. 2, 1997

A homeless man with a toy gun was shot to death by a police officer after being mistaken for a man accused of pistol-whipping his wife.

Detective Roberto Soler, a 15-year police veteran, was one of several officers looking for the wife-beating suspect Saturday night when he spotted 42-year-old Augusto Melendez carrying what appeared to be a gun. Soler fired after Melendez refused to drop the weapon, police said.

Witnesses told police they didn’t realize the gun wasn’t real until Melendez was shot and they heard the sound of the toy hitting the ground.

Police spokesman Delrish Moss said Melendez did not speak English, and it wasn’t known if Soler shouted to him in English or Spanish.

Soler was put on administrative leave, which is standard procedure when an officer kills someone.

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