Chris Reyka Killing: Investigation Leads to Polk County Prison and Convicted Drug Dealer
In the early hours of August 10, 2007, Broward Sheriff's deputy Chris Reyka was gunned down in the parking lot of a Pompano Beach drugstore. Despite a massive manhunt and a $270,000 reward, the mysterious case was never solved.
Michael E. Miller Jaleel Torres was Shawn LaBeet's closest confidant.
Now, however, detectives believe they have their man: Shawn LaBeet, a 25-year-old Islander who was himself shot to death a month after Reyka during a standoff with police.
Miami New Times set out to see if LaBeet was, in fact, the most likely suspect. Our investigation ultimately took us to a remote prison in Polk County to talk to a drug dealer covered in psychological warfare tattoos.
See also: Shawn LaBeet: Cop Killer Redux
To get to the Polk Correctional Institution, you must head four hours north towards Orlando, exit at the Middle of Nowhere, proceed past small villages of ramshackle houses draped in hanging moss, until you arrive at Florida's sad, sickly heart.
You will be welcome. Visitors are few here, and viewed with curiosity like passing comets. (Even the guards seem happy to have someone new around who isn't suspected of hiding a shiv up his rectum.)
A skinny man with café con leche skin and fresh, black tattoos slunk into a chair across from me. He had the same sleepy eyes and round nose as his uncle.
"No bullshit, I was probably the closest person to him," Torres told me.
He described his uncle as a regular guy who had come to be consumed by hatred for cops after an arrest as a juvenile.
"He was foaming at the mouth and shit" in jail, Torres said. "I don't know if he was claustrophobic or what the hell it was. But when he came out of there, he said, 'I'll never go to jail again.'"
LaBeet usually kept at least one AK-47 in his car and a pistol in his belt, Torres said.
"He'd tell you when you got in his car: 'If I get stopped, I'm gonna kill the cop,'" Torres said. "I ain't into killing people. I'm just a marijuana dealer."
"He hated cops," Torres said of LaBeet. "Just hated them. Period."