Prosecutors will not charge the police officers who killed a motorist on South Beach in a hail of bullets after a chaotic chase during Memorial Day weekend four years ago.
In a long-awaited ruling on the controversial incident, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office officially ruled Tuesday that the 12 officers were “legally justified” in killing Raymond Herisse after he plowed into several cars and nearly ran over several bicycle cops. Police bullets – over 100 were fired in all – also wounded four bystanders.
Though opening fire on a Collins Avenue teeming with a holiday crowd might not have been a safe choice, under Florida’s “fleeing felon” law, prosecutors decided that officers acted lawfully in trying to keep Herisse from hurting anyone.
“This was not a routine stop of an individual who had committed a traffic violation,” prosecutors wrote in an 88-page final memo detailing the controversial May 30, 2011 shooting. “The surrounding officers obviously and correctly viewed this as a dangerous and potentially desperate suspect.”
The incident spurred a slew of lawsuits from outraged families, policy changes at the Miami Beach police department and scrutiny on law enforcement presence during a holiday week that attracts tens of thousands of revelers, many of them black.
The release of the final report comes as fatal officer-involved shootings, particular the killing of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., during a scuffle with a white officer, have drawn national scrutiny on law enforcement’s use of force.
The Herisse shooting ultimately led to a key policy change at Miami Beach police department, where officers have been involved in a series of controversial or embarrassing episodes in recent years. In October, newly appointed Chief Dan Oates announced that officers would no longer be allowed to shoot at moving cars – a policy long in place across the bay in Miami.
Source: Miami Herald | David Ovalle