Inside the home of a man accused of shooting a North Miami Beach police officer, investigators discovered hundreds of stolen names and Social Security numbers believed used for identity theft.
That was one of the chief revelations Monday as prosecutors detailed the attempted murder case against Elton Bandoo, whose home was raided last month as part of a federal investigation into unemployment-claim and tax-refund fraud.
Prosecutors say Bandoo shot and wounded SWAT officer Lino Diaz as police tried to enter the home at 16033 NE Eighth Ave. Bandoo insists that he had no idea police were at his door – and that he fired only after hearing loud bangs and his mother screaming, “We’re getting robbed.”
Monday’s hearing, held to determine whether prosecutors had enough evidence to keep Bandoo behind bars before trial, sheds fresh light on why police targeted Bandoo’s home in the early morning hours of Feb. 6.
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Exactly how investigators originally honed in Bandoo remains a secret – federal authorities asked state counterparts to avoid details as they work toward building a case against him.
But North Miami Beach Detective Craig Catlin said after that after the shooting, he found several computers and lists of hundreds of stolen names and Social Security numbers – some of them hidden in between boxes of 100 pairs of sneakers and shoes in a bedroom closet.
In another room, detectives found one of Bandoo’s running laptops, a sheet of stolen names atop the computer.
“He was doing some sort of financial crime with that sheet of paper,” Catlin said.
The 26-year-old Bandoo has yet to be charged with any federal crimes. In state court, Bandoo is facing a charge of first-degree attempted murder.
Though Bandoo has no arrest record, police detectives believed he was involved in filing false tax returns and unemployment claims, criminal activity that has fueled many North Miami-Dade street gangs in recent years.
“These days economic crimes and violent crimes crimes go hand in hand,” Catlin testified.
Officers also believed Bandoo might be dangerous because of of his rapping on a music video uploaded on YouTube – featuring him repeatedly pointing an AK47 toward the camera. The video, filmed at the North Miami Beach home, is for a song called “Pull Your Stick.”
Prosecutors played the video in court. Defense attorney Seth Lavey smiled broadly, bobbing his head to the blaring beat. Prosecutor Bill Howell and Catlin, line for line, tried to explain the street slang to the judge.
“The stick is an assault rifle,” Catlin said.
“Wet his ass up, what does that refer to?” Howell asked.
“That means shooting somebody up with a lot of bullets,” the detective replied. “They’re going to have a lot of blood coming out of them.”
Incredulous, Lavey pointed out that songs steeped in violence are simply artistic creations of rappers. Some, like Ice Cube, have gone on to “play a cop on TV.”
“You may not like, it’s the First Amendment, it’s free speech, isn’t it?” Lavey said.
The morning of the raid, officers testified they pounded on the door for 30 seconds to one minute, yelling “Police! Search Warrant!”
When there was no answer, they deployed several “flashbang” grenades designed to stun the occupants of the home as the heavily armed officers prepared to enter.
Officer Diaz testified Monday that after he threw two grenades, he hopped atop a concrete wall, trying to kick down an adjacent wooden fence when he heard a pair of shots.
“It was like this, ‘bang, bang.’ I felt the impact immediately,” Diaz said. “I couldn’t see where the gunshots had come from.”
Diaz collapsed to the ground, wounds to his left leg and arm. Three or four more shots rang out.
“I started yelling, I’m shot, I’m shot,’ Diaz testified. “Somebody came and dragged me out of there.”
Bandoo eventually surrendered. Police fired no shots. Diaz, 47, underwent several surgeries to repair his arm and leg.
The hearing continues Tuesday before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jason Bloch.