As the investigation continues into a the Memorial Day shooting by Miami Dade police that left one man dead, questions are still unanswered as police scramble to understand what went wrong.
According to police, the incident took place around 4:00 a.m. on Collins Avenue between 13th and 16th Streets. Police allege that there was a tense situation between some officers and a man driving a car when the man tried to hit officers with that moving car and that the man began to fire a gun from inside his vehicle.
But a search of the vehicle did not turn up a gun and without a gun found on the slain driver; many questions remain about what happened.
Moreover four innocent bystanders were hospitalized and Miami Dade Police Chief Carlos Noriega said Monday during a press conference that police officers may have been responsible for the four stray bullets that struck people on the street.
The driver shot and killed by 12 police officers Monday morning on South Beach was Raymond Herisse, a 22-year-old Palm Beach County man. Police released Herisse’s name Wednesday afternoon and again acknowledged that no weapon was found on Herisse or in the car. Sgt. Alejandro Bello, president of the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police, said a dozen officers — eight from Miami Beach and four from outside the department — were involved in the confrontation with Herisse and the subsequent shooting.
Bello said he couldn’t discuss specifics because of the ongoing investigation, but alleges that the officers acted responsibly when the twelve officers fired a barrage of bullets into the driver’s car.
Although officers did not find a gun in the bullet-riddled car, a CBS affiliate based in Palm Beach reported Monday that a Palm Beach County couple, Narces Benoit and his girlfriend recorded the shooting with his cell phone camera. But he says a police officer ran over and grabbed his camera phone and smashed it.
“He didn’t say nothing. He just snatched me by my head and threw me on the ground and stepped on my back, threw it on the floor, stepped on it and was cussing me out the whole time,” said Benoit.
Benoit says he feels when police opened fire on that car in Miami Beach early Monday morning they overreacted, putting the lives of innocent bystanders in jeopardy, because someone could have been hit by stray gunfire.
Two prosecutors from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office were on the scene shortly after the shooting — the first of two Monday morning. Spokesman Ed Griffith said the agency’s standard procedure is to open a review of all police shootings “to see if indeed that the shooting was within the bounds of the law.”
Monday evening, the American Civil Liberties union called for an independent, outside investigation into the shooting and cautioned against blaming the shootings on crowds in town for Urban Beach Week,
a huge hip-hop gathering of people who come to South Beach for private club and hotel concerts and events.
“Right now it much too early to judge what happened and determine who is responsible,” local chapter president John de Leon wrote.
Terrance Smith, founder of BlackBeachWeek.com and a major promoter of Urban Beach Week, which typically draws more than 200,000 people to South Beach, also said those who are calling for an end to Urban Beach Week should wait to learn more about the shootings labeling visitors as violent.
The investigation is still-on-going.