Drama on the interstate: Man bites cop’s finger and cop shoots him dead

Deadly police involved shooting shuts down southbound I-95

Miami-Dade police are investigating a shooting on southbound I-95 at 119th St.
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Miami-Dade police are investigating a shooting on southbound I-95 at 119th St.

Junior Prosper crashed the Yellow Cab he was driving into a small light pole at the entrance to I-95 about two hours before sunrise Monday. There wasn’t much traffic and the car was only slightly damaged.

Then things got weird.

Out of the car, Prosper ran up the southbound ramp at Northwest 119th Street as if trying to merge his body with traffic. Then a Miami-Dade cop on foot caught up to him. They struggled, tumbling into bushes and trees on the west side of the highway. A Taser went off. Prosper bit the officer’s finger to the bone. The officer fired his weapon. Prosper was killed.

That was the version offered by police of the drama that played out before rush hour and mostly out of public view early Monday morning. Views of the ramp heading south off Northwest 119th Street, which runs several hundred feet before joining the highway, are blocked by a concrete wall and small buildings.

In the 47-second audio of the officer’s desperate call to dispatch, he can be heard repeating, “Shots fired. Shots fired.” Then the dispatcher banters. As the audio concludes, some of what the officer says is inaudible. Then this: “He bit my finger off.”

The officer, a nine-year veteran, was not identified. Police said he was taken to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery to re-attach a finger on his left hand.

Prosper’s body remained on the side of the highway for several hours as detectives tried to re-create the crime scene and determine who fired the Taser and how many shots were fired from the officer’s weapon.

“A Taser was deployed, but we don't know if the cop did it,” said Miami-Dade Detective Daniel Ferrin. “The subject started biting his hand to the point that the discharge occurred.”

The shooting and investigation brought Monday morning rush-hour traffic to a halt for hours as cops shut down Interstate 95 from Northwest 125th to 103rd streets. Traffic backed up to the Broward line and alternate roads including Northwest Seventh Avenue didn’t offer much relief.

Later Monday, police wouldn’t say if Prosper, 31, was the driver of cab 4050, or if he had just gained access to it. The cab was not reported stolen, police said. But law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation also said they don’t believe the cab belonged to Prosper. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate the shooting.

Police said the first call they received was at 5:09 a.m., informing them of a car crash. When they arrived, they spotted the cab had just missed the on ramp to I-95 and was sitting over a curb with slight damage, its driver-side front bumper dented by the pole. A sign just a few feet away on the entrance ramp read: “Be prepared to stop.”

As the officer reached the scene, police said, a Road Ranger pointed out that Prosper had just started running up the ramp. The officer gave chase, catching up to Prosper before he cleared the ramp. They tumbled onto the side of the highway into some brush and trees.

Police said when the officer tried to calm Prosper, the confrontation turned physical. Someone fired the officer’s Taser. By Monday afternoon, police hadn’t said if anyone was hit or who fired the weapon. Police said Prosper then bit the officer’s left hand so hard that it almost severed a finger.

The officer then shot Prosper dead. Police didn’t say how many times the gun was fired before the officer demanded help from dispatch using his shoulder radio.

Police listed Prosper’s address as an apartment in North Miami Beach. Several calls to a number listed there were not returned.