Miami-Dade County

Police shoot man dead after stun guns fail to subdue him

Video: Aunt reacts to nephew shot by Opa-Locka police

Audrey Brown reacts to her nephew being shot by Opa-Locka Police on NW 135th Street. Video by Walter Michot / Miami Herald
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Audrey Brown reacts to her nephew being shot by Opa-Locka Police on NW 135th Street. Video by Walter Michot / Miami Herald

Before two Opa-locka cops gunned down a man Wednesday morning — the seventh shooting by South Florida law enforcement since Friday — the man jumped on a patrol car and smashed its window, then withstood the blast of two electronic shock devices meant to subdue him, police said.

Police said the devices had so little effect that the man remained standing and continued to threaten the officers until they shot and killed him.

“There’s a witness who corroborated he had a weapon. Some type of stick or crowbar. According to them [after officers deployed their stun guns] he still continued forward with something in his hand,” said David Chiverton, Opa-locka’s assistant city manager.

Cornelius Brown, 25, was the second of the seven police shooting victims to die. On Tuesday, Leon Yohans, 28, was killed more than a mile from a Wendy’s restaurant just west of Cutler Bay after he held up the fast food restaurant manager at gunpoint, police said. Officers said they opened fire when Yohans produced a firearm, which was recovered near his body on a canal bank.

An arrest affidavit from 2012 provided to the Herald from news partner CBS 4 claims that Yohans was a discharged Iraq war veteran who had moved in with his parents and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.

Five others, including four teenagers who were shot by police, survived. The first incident happened Friday night when a Miami-Dade police officer noticed a police truck that had been stolen earlier in the week at a Speedway gas station in South Miami-Dade. He took off after it, and approached on foot after it crashed, police said.

Then, according to police, the driver, Jorbel Cruz, 19, steered toward the officer and accelerated. The officer fired into the vehicle, striking Cruz, Joel Cabrera, 19, and a third juvenile male. The trio survived the bullet wounds. Two girls in the truck were unharmed.

On Sunday, two more people were shot by police — one minute and 20 miles apart.

Quayvis Howard, 16, was shot by a Miami-Dade police officer at 5:02 p.m. in Northwest Miami-Dade. A detective responding to a carjacking and two robberies chased Howard on foot after he crashed the car. When the officer confronted him, he said Howard produced a gun, which was recovered at the scene.

A minute later at 5:03 p.m., a South Miami police officer shot Michael Gavin, 36, after pulling him over at a Coral Gables gas station. Police said Gavin disobeyed orders, refused to pull his hands out of his pants, then made a sharp move before he was shot.

Brown, who was killed in Opa-locka Wednesday, was the only one of the seven shot who police had no reason to believe stole property. The others were charged with crimes ranging from stealing beer and a police vehicle to carjacking and armed robbery.

Chiverton confirmed that family members said Brown was a diagnosed schizophrenic who often walked around with a broomstick. If so, the shooting is eerily similar to the February shooting death of 25-year-old Lavall Hall in Miami Gardens, who was shot by police outside his home after Tasers failed to subdue him. The officers said Hall threatened them with a broomstick.

Wednesday’s shooting happened just after 3:30 a.m., when an Opa-locka police officer observed a man acting oddly at a Quick Mart store on Northwest 135th Street near 32nd Avenue. The cop followed the man in his patrol car as he headed west.

When the man reached Sesame Street, a street in Opa-locka, police said he suddenly jumped on the hood of the police cruiser and began smashing the front windshield, cracking it. The officer called for backup. Confronted by another officer who had arrived from the west in a black Chevrolet Tahoe, the man began swinging a stick or a crowbar, and both officers deployed their Taser, police said.

“He jumps on the windshield and starts pounding the windshield,” said Miami-Dade police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta. “Both deploy their Taser. It’s unsuccessful. Now he turns his aggression on the officer.”

Miami-Dade Police Det. Alvaro Zabaleta describes Opa-Locka Police involved shooting on NW 135th Street. Video by Walter Michot / Miami Herald

That’s when, police said, the officers fired their weapons, killing him. One of the unnamed officers was a rookie, the other a six-year veteran. Police said there was no dashboard camera on the patrol car and officers weren’t wearing cameras.

“We did recover pieces of what appear to be a broomstick,” Zabaleta said.

Investigations of the five people shot by Miami-Dade police are being done by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The South Miami and Opa-locka shootings will be investigated by Miami-Dade police.

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