Calling for more scrutiny of police officers, the family of a 22-year-old man shot and killed last year by police has filed a lawsuit accusing Miami Beach police of withholding evidence critical to the case.
“My son is dead. I miss my son. Why did my son have to die?’’ wailed Marcellina Azor, the mother of Raymond Herisse, who was shot at more than 100 times by police officers during last year’s Memorial Day festivities in South Beach.
The family’s lawyer, Marwan Porter, said that the actions of police officers that day and other recent scandals involving misconduct by Miami Beach police officers reveal a troubling pattern that government leaders and citizens need to address.
“How do you justify shooting into a crowd of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people? If you watch the video, it looked like something from a cartoon show, the way [police] were dancing around.’’
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Herisse, who lived in Boynton Beach, was killed in a confrontation that began when a Hialeah police officer tried to pull him over about 4 a.m. on May 30. Police said he nearly ran them over, then barreled down Collins Avenue, driving through barricades and striking cars. Police believed that Herisse was armed and firing shots at them, a charge his family denies. A video that was shot by a bystander and shown on YouTube captured Herisse’s car rolling down the street amid gunfire. He appeared to stop, at which point a group of about a dozen police officers surrounded his Hyundai sedan and opened fire, killing Herisse.
Four people, apparently innocent bystanders, were seriously wounded. None of them have health insurance and they continue to suffer chronic pain.
Joining Herisse’s family was Cedrick Perkins, a Tallahassee man who still has a bullet lodged in his chest from getting caught in the gunfire.
“It’s very difficult providing for my family,’’ said Perkins, who hasn’t been able to work since.
Benjamin Crump, who is representing Perkins, said he is concerned that police are stonewalling the investigation in order to cover-up what happened.
He said after the shootings, many witnesses reported that police officers aggressively seized their cell phones. Police said at the time they were collecting evidence but witnesses believed the officers were bent on destroying it.
Miami Beach police and the state attorney’s office have declined to comment while the case is unresolved.
“Far too many times police will delay and delay and sweep it under the rug,” said Crump, who also represents the family of Trayvon Martin, the Miami Gardens high-school student who was shot and killed by a crime watch volunteer in Central Florida. Crump filed a similar lawsuit against Sanford police, who investigated that slaying.
“We have video of it. It’s all over YouTube,’’ Crump said of the Beach case. “They should know what happened by now.’’