Four years after police fired more than 100 rounds at a man during Miami Beach’s controversial Memorial Day Weekend, killing him instantly even though he was not wielding a gun, prosecutors announced they would not file charges against the officers.
After all, they said, the cops were only trying to keep Raymond Herisse from hurting anybody.
Never mind the fact that cops shot four innocent bystanders by wildly firing their guns on a crowded street in an incident captured on two videos that survived confiscation.
The decision, of course, was not surprising. Day after day we are reminded that cops have a license to kill.
And the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has a long history of forgiving cops who abuse their power (while prosecuting me three times since 2007 for photographing cops in public. Unsuccessfully, I should add).
What was surprising was that it took four years to confirm the expected.
But by prolonging it as long as they did, they were able to suppress any potential outrage from the community considering since that 2011 Memorial Day Weekend, South Florida cops have been caught in a whirlwind of scandals and abuse-of-power incidents.
It’s a daily occurrence. It just never stops.
According to the Miami Herald:
In a long-awaited ruling on the controversial incident, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office officially ruled Tuesday that the 12 officers were “legally justified” in killing Raymond Herisse after he plowed into several cars and nearly ran over several bicycle cops. Police bullets — over 100 were fired in all — also wounded four bystanders.
Though opening fire on a Collins Avenue teeming with a holiday crowd might not have been a safe choice, under Florida’s “fleeing felon” law, prosecutors decided that officers acted lawfully in trying to keep Herisse from hurting anyone.
“This was not a routine stop of an individual who had committed a traffic violation,” prosecutors wrote in an 88-page final memo detailing the controversial May 30, 2011 shooting. “The surrounding officers obviously and correctly viewed this as a dangerous and potentially desperate suspect.”
The incident spurred a slew of lawsuits from outraged families, policy changes at the Miami Beach police department and scrutiny on law enforcement presence during a holiday week that attracts tens of thousands of revelers, many of them black.
The shooting was caught on video from a man upstairs, who posted it online where it quickly went viral to the dismay of Miami Beach police officers, who tried their best to grab any potential camera that may have captured the incident, including pointing a gun at a man’s head, ordering him to hand over his phone.
That man was able to salvage his footage by removing the phone’s memory card. PINAC’s archives are in shambles at the moment, which we will eventually fix, so here’s a story I wrote about the incident on Miami Beach 411:
In the ensuing moments after Miami Beach police shot and killed Raymond Herisse in a hail of bullets on Memorial Day, one officer turned his gun on a man who had recorded the shooting.
That video, which was posted on Youtube late Monday, then goes blank.
But Narces Benoit, a 35-year-old car stereo technician from Palm Beach County, said the officer dragged him out of his car, grabbed his phone and smashed it down on the ground, destroying it.
Police then detained him for several hours at the police station, Benoit told the Miami Herald.
The only reason he was able to salvage the video was because he was able to remove the memory card from the broken phone after the cop had placed it back in his pocket and hide it in his mouth.
The video, the second citizen video to be posted on Youtube since the shooting last week, provides more insight into the shooting that left a 22-year-old man dead.
But it also raises more questions.
The obvious question after viewing this video is why did police wish to destroy evidence, which is a crime. Benoit said that police had destroyed other people’s cameras as well but nobody else has come forwarded with that claim.
However, Local 10 is reporting that police confiscated one of their cameras as well, which is illegal because the law requires them to obtain a subpoena to do this.
At first, police claimed Herisse was firing out the window, but then it took them two-and-a-half days to find the gun in his car.
And several days after that finding, Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega said it was found in the floorboard behind the driver’s seat, according to the Miami Herald.
He also said they have not determined if the gun had been shot nor did he say if spent shell casings were found inside or outside Benoit’s car.
As for why it took so long for them to find the gun, Noriega said they needed to get legal consent to search the car, but that’s a little difficult to believe considering they had to enter the car to remove Herisse’s body.
And besides, this department is not exactly known for respecting the Constitutional rights of citizens – especially on Memorial Day Weekend.
In fact, these officers acted pretty reckless in discharging their weapons at Herisse, striking four innocent bystanders in the process, including one man who still has a bullet lodged in his chest.
The incident cast an embarrassing spotlight on the Miami Beach Police Department, more than the usual, that is. Two months later, they announced a new policy starting that police officers do not have the right to seize cameras from citizens, something they had a long history of doing.
In fact, I was arrested during the 2009 Memorial Day Weekend for photographing a cop named David Socarres, whose brother, Dario, was fired from the Miami-Dade Police Department in 2013 for ignoring armed robbery calls so he could hook up with his girlfriend in a parking lot of a shopping mall, which was all caught on video.
So it’s understandable why these cops can be a little camera shy.
Since the release of their policy, Miami Beach police have become a little friendlier towards cameras, but they still use intimidation tactics against citizens who record them in public as they did to us on Memorial Day Weekend in 2014 and 2013.
We will be out there again this year and expect the same treatment because cops won’t change their behavior if they know they will face no discipline, which is exactly why the cops in the videos below showed no restraint in firing more than 100 bullets at a man who was driving his car down the street.