Miami riot alert

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON - Parts of central Miami were under a general riot warning last night after the trial of a local police officer accused in the fatal shooting of a black motorcyclist in the city four years ago ended in his acquittal, writes David Usborne.

In efforts to avert a repeat of the three days of rampaging that followed the killing of the motorcyclist and his passenger in the Overtown district in January 1989, police forces were posted at major intersections of the city and a contingent of 200 National Guardsmen were placed on alert.

The judge in the case, which was heard 200 miles away in Orlando, had delayed the reading of the verdict for four hours to allow the Miami authorities more time to prepare for possible violence. The jury was made up of three whites, two Hispanics and one black. Shortly after the verdict's delivery, the Miami streets appeared peaceful.

The officer, William Lozano, 33, who is Colombian-born, was originally found guilty on two counts of manslaughter in 1989, but later was granted the right to a retrial on the grounds that the first jury may have been influenced by the fear of triggering renewed unrest.

While family members and friends wept around him, Mr Lozano last night said: 'I want to thank the Lord for giving me a second chance.'