The motorist killed on South Beach during a wild police shooting on Memorial Day 2011 does not appear to have fired a weapon, according to a report obtained by The Miami Herald.
The report, completed by Miami-Dade Police’s forensics lab, shows that Raymond Herisse did not test positive for gunpowder residue — a key clue to whether he might have discharged a pistol found in his car.
“Any notion that Raymond fired a gun out of his vehicle, which may have allegedly given justification to unleash 100 rounds in his vehicle, is unfounded,” his family’s lawyer, Marwan Porter, said of the report.
The shooting occurred during Urban Beach Week, a hip-hop-themed series of parties that attract thousands of young revelers to South Beach. Police, trying to stop Herisse’s speeding car, unleashed a fusillade of bullets, also striking three bystanders on the crowded street. A fourth person may have been shot, but has not been identified.
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Herisse, 22, of Boynton Beach, was dead on the scene. The bystanders were treated for their wounds.
Police found the gun hidden in Herisse’s blue, bullet-ridden Hyundai three days later.
Miami-Dade police released the report this week in response to a recent public records request by one of the lawyers suing Miami Beach.
In the shooting on May 30, 2011, police tried to stop Herisse’s speeding four-door Hyundai as it barreled down a crowded Collins Avenue.
Miami Beach police said Herisse ignored orders to pull over, hitting an officer and almost hitting several others, and slamming into barricades and cars.
Video shot from a nearby apartment and later uploaded on the Internet showed Herisse’s car speeding down the congested street amid gunfire. Once the car stopped, officers from Miami Beach and Hialeah surrounded it with guns drawn and fired.
Three days later, then-Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega announced that detectives who pored over the bullet-ridden vehicle found a black Berretta 92-F semi-automatic pistol.
“We were told he was seen with a firearm and, sure enough, there was a firearm in the car,” Noriega said at the time. “We were told he discharged his firearm. Now, we need to confirm that with ballistics.”
The department never said conclusively that Herisse had fired the weapon.
Fraternal Order of Police President Alex Bello said Wednesday that he believed the shooting to nevertheless be justified.
“Regardless of whether or not he had gunshot residue on his hands, the guy was clearly a threat in an automobile that can take out a bunch of people,” Bello said. “Clearly, he was not going to give up. He ran over an officer’s bike, injuring him, and he started crashing into vehicles.”
Herisse’s family, the wounded bystanders and their supporters say the 12 police officers who fired their weapons that morning acted recklessly.
Civil rights leaders criticized police saying they were heavy-handed in dealing with the mostly African-American crowd, while the event has rankled some Beach residents for years, upset about the event that has brought a crush of outsiders and crime to the already congested area.
After the shooting, lawyers for the wounded and Herisse’s family went to court seeking access to police records.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Victoria Sigler ruled earlier this month that most of the records could not be released because of the pending criminal probe. Miami-Dade prosecutors are awaiting the final report from the lead homicide investigator before deciding whether the officers were justified in using lethal force.
The judge did order that Herisse’s autopsy report and 911 and police radio dispatches be released.
The Miami-Dade police report was released to Bradley Winston, who represents wounded bystander Sarah Garcia.
Miami lawyer L. Elijah Stiers, who represents wounded bystander Carlson Saint Louis, said the gunshot residue test was important in knocking down any notion that Herisse fired the bullets that hit people in the crowd.
“This all but rules out any theory that my client was struck by anything other than a weapon fired by a Miami Beach or Hialeah police officer,” he said.