The 33-second video taken by a gas station surveillance camera shows a red Nissan Altima pull up to an intersection. A few seconds later, it nudges a white car in front of it. Almost immediately, Florida Highway Patrol trooper Misael Diaz pulls his motorcycle up next to the driver’s side door of the Altima.
Then mayhem and death.
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Diaz drops his bike and moves toward the Altima’s front hood, touching it. As the car inches forward then backs up, the trooper jumps on its hood. When the driver tries to make a U-turn, Diaz hangs on, then is flung from the car.
Though it’s not clear on the video — obtained through a Chevron employee who used his cellphone to videotape the surveillance footage from the gas station — Diaz fired through the vehicle’s front windshield before it fled from the intersection at Northwest 167th Street and 37th Avenue.
“He fears for his life and fires into the vehicle as the vehicle makes a U-turn and flees northbound,” said FHP spokesman Joe Sanchez.
South Florida had four officer-involved shootings in the past week
The brief confrontation on a commercial strip just off the Palmetto Expressway in Miami Gardens took place just before 11 a.m. on Wednesday. It was one of three officer-involved shootings in Miami-Dade on Wednesday, and one of five in South Florida in the last week.
Struck three times, twice in the arm and once in the chest, the driver of the Altima — who had not been identified by early Wednesday evening — managed to finish the U-turn and control his vehicle as he drove north on Northwest 37th Avenue for eight blocks. Then, when he reached Northwest 175th Street, witnesses said he lost control and slammed head-on into a southbound SUV.
Sanchez said the SUV’s driver, a woman, was taken to the hospital and was expected to be released Wednesday. Witnesses at the crash scene said residents helped pull the man out of the Altima and administered CPR, but to no avail. When Diaz caught up, Keloria Crooks said he dumped his motorcycle, saw the body and slammed his fist against his bike several times.
“He was upset,” she said. “There were bullet holes through the front windshield. I saw him, he was shot in the chest and twice in the right arm.”
Crooks said the driver of the Altima seemed to be alive when he was pulled from the vehicle but it was apparent he had died by the time paramedics arrived. The impact of the collision with the SUV was so great it launched the Altima into the front fence of a home on the street.
Sanchez said FHP would release the man’s name after his family was notified of his death.
He said a woman in her 20s in the Altima was taken to the hospital with injuries.
FHP policy allows troopers to fire into vehicles if they fear for their lives
He said department policy allows troopers to fire into vehicles if they fear for their lives. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate to determine whether the shooting was justified. Sanchez said Diaz is a five-year veteran.
The shooting marked a bloody seven-day span for South Florida law enforcement. Only 90 minutes after the FHP incident and 30 miles south, a Miami-Dade officer on robbery detail shot a teen suspected of carjacking. He’s expected to live.
It was 12:30 p.m., police said, when undercover officers working the county’s Robbery Intervention Detail spotted a four-door white Kia at Southwest 112th Avenue and 224th Street that matched the description of a vehicle that had been carjacked a week earlier.
Police said when the officers tried to stop the car, it kept going. That’s when, according to police, a 15-year-old passenger jumped out of the Kia, grabbed his gun, and ran. Miami-Dade Police Detective Marjorie Eloi said an officer fired her weapon at him and missed. The 15-year-old was caught.
The car’s two other occupants jumped out, Eloi said, but the car kept moving forward and crashed in a field a block away. One of the two, age 16, “brandished” his weapon, Eloi said, and an officer fired in response, striking him. He was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center with injuries that were not life threatening.
The third teen escaped briefly, but was soon caught. Police had not identified the teens in the Kia by Wednesday night. Police said they recovered two guns.
There were police swarming everywhere.
James Merkeson, Miami-Dade resident who lives near one of Wednesday’s shootings
James Merkeson, 64, who lives near where the shooting took place, said he heard four pops, “then there were police swarming everywhere.”
Then, about 10 p.m. Wednesday, Miami-Dade police reported a third officer-involved shooting, this time in Northwest Miami-Dade, but said it was a “no-contact” incident, meaning a weapon was fired but no one was hit.
Police say say that detectives were conducting a narcotics sales investigation when a suspect "reached within his waistband."
According to a Miami-Dade police statement: "The detective in fear for his own safety retrieved his firearm. Shots were fired; however the subject was not struck. The subject was subsequently taken into custody."
The other two shootings by law enforcement happened last week.
Last Thursday, Miami-Dade police officer George Eugene shot and killed Kentrill Carraway, 22, after a brief confrontation behind a townhouse in Northwest Dade.
Eugene and other gang unit officers not in uniform but on a narcotics detail spotted Carraway under a tree with five friends. Police said that when Eugene yelled a command, Carraway got up and took off running.
Eugene, a nine-year veteran, spotted a gun in Carraway’s waistband and ordered him to drop the weapon. A law enforcement source said Carraway had the gun in his hand when Eugene fired the fatal shot. He was hit twice, in the left shoulder and in the hip.
Then on Sunday, a Hallandale Beach police officer, responding to a report that men were looking into vehicles with flashlights in Golden Isles, shot and killed Michael Eugene Wilson Jr., 27.
Video from a police body camera showed two men in a gray Toyota Corolla starting to drive off and ignoring orders from officers to stop. On the video, the driver revs the engine and turns the car toward one of the officers. The officer fired into the car, fearing it was going to strike him, police said.
With his friend shot, the other man in the car, Tyler L. Shuman, 23, took off running. He was captured about two hours later and a few blocks away. K9s and a helicopter helped in the search. Shuman was later charged with the murder of his friend. Under Florida law, if someone is killed while taking part in a violent felony, an accomplice can be tried for murder.