In the minutes before Raymond Herisse was killed in a torrent of police gunfire, Miami Beach police were bombarded with the constant crackle of gunfire and, for five nerve-racking minutes, some of them tried fruitlessly to figure out where the shots were coming from, who was firing upon whom and why shots were being fired at all.
Police dispatch audio files, obtained exclusively by The Miami Herald, reveal the tumultuous minutes before and after the 2011 Urban Beach shootings in which one person was killed and four bystanders seriously wounded in a hail of bullets 116 of them fired by police during the citys annual Memorial Day weekend hip-hop-themed street festival.
The audio files reveal that Miami Beach police were confronting numerous crime scenes simultaneously that morning, including a SWAT team investigation at a hotel on Ocean Drive involving a suspected gunman, and at least two other shootings. Its clear it was a chaotic few hours in which officers were hunting crime suspects in all corners of South Beach.
But the audio files are perhaps more interesting for what they dont reveal: Why police felt compelled to fire a fusillade of bullets on a vehicle that had already stopped and a suspect they already had at gunpoint.
I think it verifies what weve seen on the video, said Marwan Porter, who represents the family of Herisse. We had the car and the subject stationary. There was nothing done by Raymond. You dont hear anybody saying he has a gun! or hes shooting! or anything that would ignite the firing squad that killed him.
Porter pointed out that the audio files do not reveal what caused officers initial contact with Herisse, and that given all the trouble that morning, its possible police may have confused Herisse with another suspect they were seeking.
Other problems on the tapes: Witnesses give conflicting accounts and descriptions of suspects running from the various crime scenes. It isnt clear whether any of them were related to the primary scene at 13th and Collins Avenue.
Police officers on the street report a fleeing vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed but none of them are heard describing the color, make or model of the vehicle. Its not clear how the dispatcher learns that the vehicle was a silver Hyundai.
Officers repeatedly and breathlessly tell dispatchers shots fired! shots fired! but none of them say that the driver in the car or anyone else is firing the shots. Its not clear whether some of the officers along Collins Avenue watching the car pass by are, in fact, firing their weapons.
Herisse, who was driving the Hyundai erratically southbound on Collins Avenue, finally comes to a stop at 13th and Collins, according to an officer on the scene. The audio files indicate that Herisse is in the vehicle and at gunpoint. Its not clear why police surround his car and fire repeatedly.
No officer reports seeing anyone else inside or fleeing Herisses car. And yet, for several hours after the shooting, officers, including SWAT team members, continue to search for other suspects, though it is not clear why. One purported suspect, described repeatedly and simply as a black man wearing a purple shirt, leads to a manhunt and the detaining of multiple black men in purple shirts.