MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – In the moments before and after a dozen Miami Beach and Hialeah police officers opened fire on a car during the 2011 Memorial Day weekend, there was chaos on the police radio as officers tried to figure out who was shooting and where the shots were coming from.
In police dispatch audio tapes obtained exclusively by CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald, the officers’ confusion can be clearly heard during the shooting which claimed the life of Raymond Herisse and injured four bystanders.
The shooting took place around 4 a.m. on May 30th, 2011 after police said Herisse, 22, 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 14th St. and Collins Avenue, police opened fire on the car. The barrage of bullets was captured on camera and posted on YouTube. Herisse, who was shot 16 times, died on the scene.
The audio files do not reveal what caused the officers’ initial contact with Herisse,
Miami Beach police were dealing with a number of crime scenes that morning including reports of an armed man in a hotel on Ocean Drive and at least two other shootings. Marwan Porter, who represents Herisse’s family, said it’s possible police may have confused Herisse with another suspect they were seeking.
In the files, a Hialeah police officer can be heard reporting a “fleeing vehicle” going at a high rate of speed south on Collins Avenue.
According to the Miami Herald, this is the exchange that followed:
Officer 1: “Hialeah 200 priority there’s a vehicle fleeing southbound on Collins at 660 Street.” (Determined to be 16th Street)
Officer 2: “I believe he struck one of the officers.’’
Dispatcher: “Vehicle description?”
Dispatcher: “Attention units: silver Hyundai heading southbound from 16th Street and Collins.”
Officer 3: “Shots fired! Shots fired! Vehicle fleeing at high rate of speed Espanola and Collins Avenue!”
Officer 4: “14th ,14th and …Collins shots fired!”
Officer 5: “Shots fired shots fired! Doesn’t know why shots fired!’’
As the vehicle rolled to a stop, the officers can be heard reporting its location and then there’s a barrage of gunfire. Records show police fired 116 rounds.
Officer 6: “13th and Collins, car stopped.’’
Officer 7: “Where’s the subject? Where’s the subject?”
Officer 6: In the vehicle…at gunpoint…”
Suddenly there’s another blast.
Dispatcher: “Multiple shots, multiple shots, 1400 block of Collins.”
On the tapes, no description of the “fleeing vehicle” is given and it is unclear how the dispatcher learned that it was a silver Hyundai. It is also not clear why the officers fired on a stopped vehicle whose driver was being held at gunpoint.
“I think it verifies what we’ve seen on the video,’’ Porter told the paper. “We had the car and the subject stationary. There was nothing done by Raymond. You don’t hear anybody saying ‘he has a gun!’ or ‘he’s shooting!’ or anything that would ignite the firing squad that killed him.’’
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.
No mention is made of the Hialeah officer who reported that he was struck by Herisse.
The four bystanders injured in the shooting, two men and two women, have received no financial assistance for their medical bills from the city. Three of them, as well as Herisse’s family, have filed suit against the city claiming the police used excessive force.
Miami Beach’s Fraternal Order of Police has said the shooting was justified because Herisse, who was drunk, posed a lethal danger to the officers and others.
It will now be up to the Miami-Dade state attorney to determine if the officers who Herisse’s vehicle committed criminal negligence by shooting in an area filled with streams of tourists.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.