MIAMI, MAY 28 -- William Lozano, the suspended police officer whose killing of two young black men ignited major rioting here four years ago, was found not guilty today on two counts of manslaughter by a jury in Orlando.
As night came and intermittent rain fell, Miami police officials reported that rocks and bottles were being thrown in some inner-city neighborhoods and from overpasses along Interstate 95. Some exit ramps were closed.
Late tonight, police in Miami and surrounding Dade County reported 44 arrests, including 10 after a group of youths stormed a city police mini-station in Overtown, the site of the original Lozano shooting. In addition, a fire squad pinned down by sniper fire was rescued. Other arrests primarily were for trespassing, looting or rock- and bottle-throwing, but officials characterized the area as "relatively calm" and "under control."
Earlier, several small brush fires and isolated looting were reported. Police called those incidents "minor" but nevertheless sealed off most of the inner city to outsiders.
Hundreds of police officers were deployed before the verdict. Dade County Circuit Judge W. Thomas Spencer had ordered a four-hour delay between the end of deliberations by the six-member jury about 12:30 p.m. and announcement of its decision. The jury in the retrial included two Hispanics and a black.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Gelber said Justice Department officials plan an investigation to determine whether to bring federal civil rights charges against Lozano. That would parallel the way federal charges were filed against four white Los Angeles officers in the videotaped beating of a black motorist for which they were virtually exonerated in a state criminal trial.
In Overtown, one of Miami's poorest black neighborhoods where Lozano shot Clement Anthony Lloyd on Jan. 16, 1989, people stood on street corners this evening discussing the verdict, and drivers honked horns in protest.
Many black residents reacted with anger to the verdict. They also expressed annoyance with the heavy police presence and with TV vans that circled their neighborhoods.
"Yo, man, this isn't a zoo!" Randall Bishop, an Overtown resident, yelled at a television crew driving past him. "Nobody wants a riot except the troublemakers and the damn media."
Miami and Dade County police officers, sometimes four in a car, cruised the streets in riot gear, further upsetting some residents.
"This is our neighborhood," said the Rev. Willie Sims, a community leader who appealed for calm. "We live here. They need to back off."
Lozano, 33, a Colombian native, had been found guilty in December 1989 and sentenced to a seven-year prison term, but an appeals court overturned that verdict, saying jurors were unduly influenced by fear of further rioting.
Lozano shot Lloyd, 23, in the head as he fled a pursuing police cruiser. Lloyd died instantly and his passenger, Allan Blanchard, 24, was killed in the resulting crash.
Lozano testified that he thought Lloyd was going to run over him, but prosecutors said he was too quick to draw his handgun and fire.
"I would like to thank the Lord for giving me an opportunity in my life to start all over again," Lozano said after the verdict. He thanked his lawyers, the judge and "every single law officer who is out there."
"I'm just very happy that I got my life back," said Lozano, who testified in his first trial. This time, his lead attorney, Roy Black, called no witnesses.
In a statewide address after the verdict, Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) said: "We don't have to agree with the verdict but have to accept it. It is time for peace to prevail in all our neighborhoods. Violence is a destructive force that solves nothing."
Chief prosecutor John Hogan said he was "obviously disappointed" with the verdict and appealed for calm. "I think we have been saying all along that Miami has matured, and this is the ultimate test," he said. "I think it has."
Hogan said his case was hurt by a state appeals court ruling that forbid introduction of evidence that Lozano did not follow proper police procedure in shooting Lloyd.
During the two-week trial, Hogan argued that Lozano shot Lloyd for no other reason than speeding. "You don't shoot people for traffic offenses," he said in closing arguments Thursday.
"Our case is an eyewitness case," he said today. "Obviously, the passage of time has an effect."
During cross-examinations and opening and closing arguments, Black repeatedly characterized Miami and its inner-city neighborhoods as "dirty, dangerous . . . drug-infested" places where "the police are always wrong."
Black also emphasized findings that Lloyd's body showed evidence of cocaine, alcohol and marijuana use, and he stressed that Lloyd was not on a "joy ride," as Hogan asserted, but was a man with a "death wish."
Lozano has been working as a security guard and has sold fast food from a cart. Because he is indigent, the state will pay Black's fee.
Miami police officials had vowed to respond quickly and in force if looting or violence erupted today. Many inner-city residents applauded the response and said they were insulted by expressions of concern that Miami would erupt anew.
"Lord, we don't need to go through all this again," said Mary Louise Jones, an Overtown resident. "Our day will come. Violence is no way."
Special correspondents James Rickenbacker in Orlando and Christina Sherry in Miami contributed to this report.