Three months ago, Miami-Dade Detective Terence White collared a teenager nicknamed “Damo” on a weapons charge in the Brownsville housing projects known as “PSU.”
On Monday, White again crossed paths with the teen — this time identifying Damian “Damo” Thompson as the person who unleashed a barrage of AK47 bullets at him and his partner as they sat in an unmarked police minivan in the same housing complex where they first met.
White’s testimony was key evidence for Miami-Dade homicide detectives early Wednesday as they arrested Thompson in connection with the ambush-style shooting that left White and fellow detective Charles Woods recovering from bullet wounds.
Thompson, a reputed associate of a Miami street gang known as the 13th Avenue Hot Boyz, was charged with two counts of attempted murder with a firearm.
He was not charged with trying to kill law-enforcement officers — despite hours of interrogation, he offered no confession and it was unclear whether he knew the two plainclothes detectives were police.
According to his arrest report, however, Thompson “acknowledged knowing Detective White.”
Miami-Dade police booked the 19-year-old Thompson into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on Wednesday afternoon. His jail mugshot showed Thompson with his left eye almost shut and his cheeks swollen.
The teen bills himself as an “underground rapper” on music and videos across social media. His title, according to his Facebook page: “Creative Director at Shooting People.”
One of his YouTube music videos, called “Stop the Violence,” features footage of him and his friends at the PSU projects during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Liberty City.
After Monday night’s shootings, police said that after receiving a tip and racing to the Hyatt Place hotel, they found Thompson hiding underneath bed sheets. He fought with detectives who came to detain him, his arrest report said.
“I’m going to kill both of ya’ll,” police said Thompson yelled at them.
When Thompson charged them with closed fists, police said, officers “in fear for their safety” struck Thompson on the left side of his face “approximately four times.” The officers “continued to strike” Thompson to “gain compliance” until he was handcuffed, according to his arrest report.
He was also charged with battery on a police officer and resisting arrest with violence. His first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.
Thompson is accused of launching the attack on White and Woods at about 10 p.m. Monday, after the two officers pulled into the Annie Coleman housing projects while monitoring a suspicious car. Suddenly, a group of men approached and surrounded the car, and one opened fire with a high-powered rifle.
At least eight rounds struck the unmarked minivan, blowing out the front passenger window. One of the detectives returned fire through the windshield.
White, 47, was shot in the leg. Woods, 37, was grazed on the arm. Fellow police officers rushed to their aid and whisked the two to Ryder Trauma Center on the back of a pickup truck.
A tip led Miami-Dade homicide detectives to Thompson. They tracked him early Tuesday to the hotel near Miami International Airport. A man and two women found with Thompson were also arrested on unrelated charges.
Thompson’s injuries after his confrontation with police were serious enough for him to visit a hospital before spending the better part of Tuesday and most of the morning Wednesday being questioned by Miami-Dade homicide detectives.
Thompson’s criminal history is not extensive. He was arrested by Miami police in November 2016 for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. According to an arrest report, a Miami patrolman saw Thompson drop several plastic bags of crack cocaine as he stood on the corner of Northwest 62nd Street and 12th Parkway. He claimed he found the bags in the Liberty Square projects.
Prosecutors never pursued charges and the case was dropped.
His second arrest came in January during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade. That day, Detective White was working in plainclothes and was informed by an anonymous source that there was a “wanted subject” in the courtyard of the PSU projects, according to a search warrant filed in court.
When the officer neared a group of people, Thompson took off, the warrant says. The detective said Thompson dropped a dark-colored gun that he pulled from his waistband.
Another officer collared and detained Thompson, and the first officer recovered the weapon, a 9mm Glock.
Thompson was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. His trial in that case is set for June 12.