NORTH MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – North Miami Beach police released 911 calls that were made moments before they responded to 155th Terrace and NE 14 Ave. where a police officer shot and killed 57 year old Ernest Vassell.
In one 911 recording, a caller said, “this guy has a rifle in his hand.” Another caller told the operator, “I’m calling from my cell phone. There’s this guy with a shot gun walking the street.”
North Miami Beach police said in a news release that Vassell pointed the rifle at officers. Police also released a photo of the rifle that turned out to be a toy.
“The availability of these replica firearms is a pervasive problem in this country. This is a very tragic situation for all involved,” said North Miami Beach Police Chief Larry Gomer.
Vassell’s family and friends don’t believe he pointed the toy gun at officers.
“By them saying that he had a gun and he pointed the gun, that’s a lie, straight up lie because that’s not his character at all,” said Terrisa Vassell, his sister-in-law.
His brother, Anthony Vassell, said the 57 year old was terrified of the police.
Vassell family is calling for an investigation.
“We just want to get clarity. We just want to know what happened. If something went wrong, then just say something went wrong. We all are humans, it’s just unbelievable,” said Vassell’s sister Marva Vassell-Gorden.
North Miami Beach Police say Miami-Dade County state attorney is investigating. The officer involved is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.