Dwayne Henry was considered a “vital witness” in one of this century’s few unsolved cop killings.
Yet police alerted immigration authorities about him, setting in motion the Jamaican immigrant’s deportation and ban from the United States.
This year, Sheriff Scott Israel negotiated with federal authorities to have Henry brought back to Florida to recount what he saw the night of Aug. 10, 2007, when Sgt. Chris Reyka was shot and killed.
Now police believe Henry’s description helps confirm their belief that Shawn Labeet, who shot it out with police and died after Reyka was killed, is their best suspect yet in the case.
Records show that about six weeks after the Reyka shooting, David Nicholson, the now-retired lead detective in the case, set in motion events that had him deported.
Henry’s lawyer, Regina de Moraes, also said that Nicholson was the one who contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Nicholson really did a number on him,” de Moraes said recently.
Nicholson did not return several calls for comment. Former Sheriff Al Lamberti said he didn’t remember the witness being deported.
On the night of Reyka’s murder, Henry was waiting for his wife in the parking lot of a Pompano Beach Walgreens. He noticed a light-skinned Hispanic man get out of the car, then heard gunshots.
Henry ducked, and when he looked up again, the suspect had driven off in a white car. Reyka was dead.
He told police what he saw that night, but he used a fake driver’s license to identify himself as Aaron Webb. He did that because he was afraid of being deported, de Moraes said.
Nicholson didn’t arrest him for the fake license until more than a month later, police records show.
Henry has a history of run-ins with the law, but de Moraes said he was successful managing a cellphone store. He moved with his parents to Florida before he was 10. They sought and obtained legal residency for themselves, but not for their son, she said.
“Dwayne was just lost in the shuffle,” de Moraes said.
Detective John Curcio, who’s taken over the Reyka investigation, now says that Labeet fits the eyewitness’ description. Curcio would not specify that Henry is that witness.