MIAMI (CBSMiami) – An attorney for one of four people injured in a police involved shooting on Miami Beach two years ago plans to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation.
Attorney Jasmine Rand, who represents Cedrick Perkins, said she wants to ask for federal intervention after she learned that critical evidence related to the case was reportedly destroyed.
“The Miami Beach Police Department’s destruction of critical evidence reeks of corruption at the highest level, and requires the immediate intervention of the United States’ Department of Justice to ensure the protection of citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed rights,” said Rand in a statement.
The critical evidence is question are recordings of police radio chatter the night 12 Miami Beach and Hialeah police officers fired more than 100 rounds into a car and killed Raymond Herisse.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald, which had requested the recordings, reports that they received an email from Miami Beach police that indicated the tapes which contained the conversations between dispatchers and officers on the street had been destroyed “as a matter of routine housekeeping.” The email stated that under state law, recordings can be legally disposed of within 30 days.
“Those recordings of police transmissions represent the unedited truth of what happened, and that’s all we’re asking. The family wants to know why their son was killed,’’ Marwan Porter told the paper.
Porter represents the family of Herisse.
But were the recordings destroyed? It all depends on who you ask.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said the recordings have been preserved. SAO spokesman Ed Griffin told the paper that the lead detective in the case had verified that the tapes had been saved. He called the information about the tapes provided by police records custodian John Babcock “completely erroneous.”
When asked about whether the tapes were destroyed or not, Police Chief Ray Martinez said it was his understanding that they had already been turned over to the civil plaintiffs. He said if they hadn’t, he would make sure new copies would be provided to them right away. As for Babcock saying they had been destroyed, Martinez said it was all a misunderstanding.
The Miami Herald reports they have requested the tapes on multiple occasions and have been given multiple excuses by the city. After one such request, Assistant City Attorney Aleksandr Boksner said, to his knowledge no such tapes exist.
After another request, the police department said they would not be able to release them because the law exempts from public scrutiny any “video or audio recordings that depict or record the killing of a person.”
In response to that, the newspaper requested only the ‘chatter’ up to the moment Herisse was hit by 16 bullets.
That request prompted the reply from Babcock which stated the recordings had been destroyed.
In response to The Miami Herald’s report on Babcock’s email, the Miami Beach Police Department issued the following statement.
“All radio transmissions, 911-calls and all other related evidence to this case have been preserved by the Miami Beach Homicide Unit who are actively investigating this case.
Miami Beach Homicide Detectives turned over all radio transmissions and 911-calls to the Miami Beach City Attorney’s Office following the ruling made by Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Victoria Sigler. These copies were provided to the plaintiff’s attorneys by the Miami Beach City Attorney’s Office.
At this time the Miami Beach Police Department is contacting the plaintiff’s attorneys to deliver information for a second time.”
The shooting took place around 4 a.m. on May 30th, 2011 after police said Herisse was driving erratically the wrong way down Collins Avenue. At one point he almost hit a Hialeah police officer on a bicycle who was helping with crowd control. Police said they thought the driver may have been armed.
As Herisse rolled to a stop near near 14th St. and Collins Avenue, police opened fire on the car. The barrage of bullets was captured on camera and posted on YouTube. Records show police fired 116 rounds, Herisse died on the scene.
Police found the gun hidden in Herisse’s blue, bullet-ridden Hyundai three days later.
A Miami-Dade Police’s forensics lab report found that Herisse did not test positive for gunpowder residue which means he did not fire the weapon.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.