Investigators have identified a gunman shot to death by police officers in North Miami over the weekend and concluded that one officer grazed by a bullet in the bizarre encounter was likely a victim of friendly fire.
Though 25-year-old Pierre Cherfrere was clad in body armor and armed — a shotgun in his hands and a pistol in his waistband — police don’t think he fired either weapon.
Detectives on Monday say they don’t yet have an answer to the biggest mystery: Why was Cherfrere walking down the street armed and armored on a sunny Saturday afternoon?
It was just past 2:30 p.m. when North Miami and Miami-Dade police officers rushed to the area around Northeast 119th Street and Northeast Second Avenue, surrounded Cherfrere and tried to get him to drop the shotgun. According to law enforcement sources, officers fired “less-than-lethal” bean bags at him, to no avail.
Moments later, police said, the man pointed the shotgun at officers, forcing them to fire a lethal volley.
In all, eight officers, including two from North Miami, fired their weapons. One Miami-Dade officer, Sergio Rivera, 37, was grazed in the right thigh in what appears to be a stray bullet fired by another officer.
On the gunman’s body, detectives found a pistol and extra shotgun shells, sources said.
Rivera was treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center and released later Saturday. He is part of Miami-Dade’s Priority Response Team, small units based across the county to be able to respond to active shooters or terrorist acts quickly.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the police shooting, while prosecutors will eventually determine if the officers were justified in firing their weapons.
Reached by phone, a man who said he is Cherfrere’s brother said the family is in mourning and did not want to speak about the shooting. “We just want to live in peace,” he said before hanging up.
Cherfrere did not have any criminal convictions in Florida, state records show.
His only arrest in Miami-Dade came in September 2016, when North Miami police found him wearing a mask and holding a large stick in front of a medical clinic and “harassing passers-by” as they left a nearby ATM. When officers asked him to leave the property, he began yelling and walked into the street, “causing traffic to come to a complete stop.”
North Miami police arrested him on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct. He pleaded not guilty and the charged were eventually dropped by the State Attorney’s Office six months later.
He was also arrested in April 2018 in North Miami Beach for carrying a concealed weapon, state records show, although how the case concluded remained unclear on Monday.