Miami-Dade FL July 25 2015 The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner has ruled the death of retired Miami-Dade Police Director Robert Parker as a suicide.
Parker died of an apparent gunshot wound, according to a law enforcement source close to the investigation.
Parker’s family noticed that he wasn’t answering his phone around 7 p.m. Wednesday night.
Around 10 p.m., Parker’s two sons found their father on the ground near a call at Maxiel Thomas’ home.
“They knocked on the door and said they wanted to look in the back. So they did and that’s were they found him,” said Thomas. “He was just lying there.”
“We heard screaming and yelling, of course, from his family and then when we seen over there, you know, we seen that he was deceased,” said neighbor George Frye.
Woodrow Jenkins said he spoke to Parker right before he left a church and everything seemed fine.
“As he always does, greets and talks, greet me, you know, I’ll see you later, you know I’ll see you later, that was, that was it,” said Jenkins.
Cecil Lamb says he’s been Parker’s pastor and close friend for more than three decades.
“It’s crazy, I mean, what? Why didn’t he call me if he was going through something? It just baffles my thinking,” he told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
He says he’s been there as Parker rose through the ranks of Miami-Dade P-D, through the race riots of the 1980s and ultimately seeing him take the top spot, before he retired in 2009.
“Not Bob! No. We love this guy. We have friends calling from all over. It’s like, we don’t believe it. It’s like a nightmare,” said Lamb.
Pastor Lamb says Parker, his wife and his niece just drove back from Georgia yesterday and that Parker had said he was tired. He also had high blood pressure recently and a bloodwork appointment scheduled for today. But the Pastor says Parker’s family has no clue why he would take his own life.
“Apparently this one must’ve been too heavy. He didn’t want to discuss it with anyone,” said Lamb.
Community leaders are reacting to the loss of a man who spent more than 30 years in law enforcement giving back.
“I found him to be an excellent director, an excellent police officer. It’s a tragedy it really is,” said Luis Fuste with the Miami-Dade Police Benevolence Association.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement on Parker’s death.
“Director Parker dedicated his life to the safety of Miami-Dade County. He was a member of the Miami-Dade Police Department for 33 years and in 2004 made history by becoming the first African American director of the Department. He led MDPD for five years until retiring in 2009. This is a painful time for Miami-Dade Police Officers, all County employees and our community. I ask all residents to keep Director Parker and his family in their thoughts and prayers.”
A U.S. Army vet, Parker spent 33 years with the Miami-Dade PD before retiring in 2009. He was the department’s first African-American director. He was recently part of a team that was hired to review police procedures and practices in Baltimore following the riots in that city earlier this year.
Late Thursday afternoon, Parker’s family issued a statement to the community reading:
“We thank the Miami-Dade Police Department and the community for all their support at this difficult time. Words cannot express the sadness my family feels from losing such a strong, compassionate and God-fearing man. What little relief we feel, comes from remembering that he spent his life in service to his community and from realizing that we are not alone; that we are surrounded and supported by the people he loved and cherished the most.”
– The Parker Family
“The Lord is my light and salvation.” ~ Psalms 27
Parker’s wife is a retired Miami-Dade Police officer, and his daughter currently works on the force.