Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Neighbors: Man shot was not wielding broomstick

Catherine Daniels Brown, left, and Marsha Brown, mothers of Lavall Hall, a mentally ill man shot dead by police in Miami Gardens, pose with a photo of Hall.
Catherine Daniels Brown, left, and Marsha Brown, mothers of Lavall Hall, a mentally ill man shot dead by police in Miami Gardens, pose with a photo of Hall. el Nuevo Herald

As protesters and family members continue to question the events leading to the February shooting death of a mentally ill man in Miami Gardens by police, some witnesses are offering a different narrative for what happened that night.

Miami Gardens police have consistently stated that 25-year-old Lavall Hall was shot after he attacked police with a broomstick after they were called to his mother’s home early on the morning of Feb. 15.

Former Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson said two officers — Peter Ehrlich and Eddo Trimino — fired their Tasers at Hall after he hit them with the metal end of a broomstick. Johnson said the Tasers had no effect and Hall charged at the officers.

As Hall came close, Trimino fired his gun five times, striking Hall twice, in the arm and in the chest.

But in interviews during a report from WLRN-Miami Herald News, at least two witnesses said that Hall didn’t have a broomstick in his hand when he was shot that morning.

“When I look he ain’t have nothing in his hand,” Hall’s next-door neighbor Tyrone Bennett told WLRN. “He had on boxers and a undershirt.”

Gregorio Marmolejo, another neighbor who lives around the corner from Hall’s home, said that he saw Hall’s body on the ground after he was shot, but didn’t see a broom.

Both men said they haven’t been interviewed by the police since the shooting.

Miami Gardens police spokesman Michael Wright did not directly address the witnesses’ claims Friday and said the investigation is still active and ongoing.

“We’re waiting on the outcome of the investigation regarding the statements of the alleged witnesses,” Wright said.

Hall’s cousin, Walter Pinkins, gave a similar account to what Marmolejo and Bennett told WLRN when he and Hall’s family spoke to the Miami Herald editorial board about their lawsuit against the police department.

Pinkins and Hall’s mother, Catherine Daniels, said they believe the broom was placed next to Hall’s body after he was shot.

“We don’t know for sure because we’ve got all these stories from witnesses,” Pinkins told the Miami Herald. “But if you shot me, how is the broom laying next to me neat? It’s like someone just laid it there.”

Daniels’ wife, Marsha Brown, said Hall left the broom in front of the family’s home before the incident with the police escalated.

“That broom was laying down in front of the yard,” Brown told the Herald.

The family said they’re ultimately unsure of everything that took place before Hall was shot and they’ve continued to request the release of the dash-cam video and audio from the incident, most recently at the city’s March 25 council meeting.

Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said that the city is willing to release the video but can only give it to Daniels, citing Florida Statute 406.136.

“Give me some closure. I want closure, please," Daniels said.

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