A Miami police officer – under threat from a machete-wielding man outside the entrance of a crowded Allapattah park – fired his weapon once Tuesday, hitting the man in the hip.
The man, whose name was not released, was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s trauma center, where he underwent surgery later. He was expected to recover.
The name of the officer who fired his weapon was not released. Police said the man who was shot appeared to be in his early 20s.
Police said someone called them about a Latin male swinging his machete at two other men at Juan Pablo Duarte Park, near Northwest 28th Street and 19th Avenue around 3:30 p.m. One of the men was nicked by the machete, and treated at the scene.
As an officer approached, the man was told repeatedly to drop the machete, according to police.
“He sees him sharpening it on the sidewalk. He tells him to stop,” said Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa. “The man gets up and walks. The officer says, ‘stop, stop.’”
When the officer felt threatened, he pulled his weapon and shot the man, said Orosa, who showed up at the scene.
The wild scene played out just a few yards from the park’s crowded playground, and not long after school had finished for the day. The large park in a working class neighborhood of mostly businesses and some modest townhouses, has a domino and recreation center, baseball and soccer fields.
The shooting attracted a large contingent of city leaders, including Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort, who represents the district, police union president Javier Ortiz, police legal counsel George Wysong and other command staff.
After the shooting, groups gathered on street corners at Northwest 28th Street and 19th Avenue. At one point, a woman burst through the crowd, screaming and falling to the ground, before she was helped to her feet by a friend and a police officer.
The woman repeatedly screamed in Spanish, “You guys killed my son. You guys killed my son.” No one knew her name.
A 12-year-old youth who said his name was Ray, was playing basketball in the park when the shooting occurred. He said he saw the man hit an ice cream truck with his machete.
“Everyone ran away,” said Ray.
One man inside the park, who described himself as a pastor named Rodny Aquino, said the man who was shot comes to the park daily and goes by the nickname “Titi.”
Rigoberto Avila, 27, says he sees the man every day in the park, usually chatting up others, sometimes playing dominoes.
“I saw him earlier today in the barbershop,” said Avila. “He told me he was going to the park and asked me if I liked his haircut.”