Motorist killed by Miami-Dade police was unarmed

Authorities have identified a 30-year-old Kendall man as the motorist shot and killed by Miami-Dade police officers this week during a Liberty City traffic stop.

Investigators believe Danny Valdes, on Tuesday just after 2 a.m., was driving a stolen Nissan in Liberty City when patrol officers ran the tag and tried pulling him over.

According to the Miami-Dade police union, Valdes refused to stop, leading them on a pursuit for more than 20 blocks.

When the car apparently died and came to a rolling stop near Northwest 59th Street and 35th Avenue, two officers got out on foot and demanded he exit. He refused, said Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera.

At first, Valdes reached toward the glove compartment. The officer at the driver’s side window did not fire “because he could see his hands,” Rivera said.

But when Valdes reached under the car seat, the officer feared for his life, Rivera said.

“He was obviously not complying and he made some threatening comments to the officer and when he reached under the seat, the threat level kept escalating and the officer feared for his life and safety and fired,” Rivera said.

No weapon was found in the Nissan. A screwdriver, which may have been used to start or break into the stolen car, was found on the floorboard.

The slain man’s family said Valdes, who long battled a drug problem, had never been violent during any of his arrests. Records show Valdes had been arrested 19 times in Miami-Dade since 2002, mostly for drugs, fleeing police and burglary. At the time of his death, he was on the lam for violating probation.

“My son did not carry a gun. He did not have any weapons with him,” said mother Elena Valdes. “He had a drug problem. I’m not going to say he was the best person in the world, but he didn’t deserve what they did to him. What they did was extremely brutal.”

Valdes had been on state probation for cocaine possession, cocaine manufacturing and grand theft. He told his family that he was “really scared” to return to police custody.

The shooting happened three days after Miami-Dade police officers in North Miami-Dade shot and killed a man who had been on a county bus armed with a gun and a novelty grenade.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

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