Investigation Underway After Officer Fired Gun In Courthouse
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Harrius Johnson returned to court Thursday, just a day after leaving behind a bullet hole in the carpet of the waiting area of a Miami courthouse.
The longtime Miami-Dade Police officer returned a day after, authorities said, he accidentally fired his assault rifle while in the courthouse.
Internal affairs is investigating how Sgt. Johnson accidentally fired an A-R- 15.
On Wednesday, when he tried to enter the courthouse with the weapon, he was stopped by security officers at the front desk and told he could not bring the rifle into the courthouse. Sources say Johnson said he was there to do a demonstration and so he was allowed to go inside.
The shot was fired in the hallway outside the Chief Judge’s courtroom on the 30th floor of the Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse around 10:30 a.m Wednesday.
Miami-Dade Police said the officer was requested to bring the AR-15 in by the State Attorney’s Office and the public defender and was demonstrating this in front of them in a pretrial.
A spokeswoman for the court system says no judge or court staff were present during the incident.
Sources say the gun wasn’t loaded at the time of the demonstration, but it was reloaded as the officer packed up the weapon and that’s when it went off leaving a hole about the size of a fingertip in the carpet near a sofa in the hallway.
No one was hurt.
Jacqueline Byrd was at the courthouse when it happened. She was there to support her niece who is facing charges in the domestic violence case, in which Sgt. Johnson was testifying. The case involved a standoff outside a Liberty City house. Byrd says she saw the bullet hole.
“When we got up there, we saw the tape, the police tape,” said Byrd. “They explained to us the officer was demonstrating to them what happened when he went to the house.”
What’s not clear is how the gun went off and why despite police training to make sure a firearm is unloaded during a demonstration on training, there was a round in the chamber.
A source tells us the weapon was not loaded during the demonstration, but was accidentally fired as Sgt. Johnson reloaded the gun. Police have not confirmed the details.
Court interpreter Peter Fleitas says he worries every day about the weapons in the family law courthouse.
“These accidents happen. They should not allow anyone in the building with a gun. That’s definite. They should have other means to restrain people,” said Fleitas.
Sources told CBS4 Sgt. Johnson was involved in the shooting of a carjacking suspect in Brownsville last September.
While the Internal Affairs case is being investigated Sgt. Johnson has been ordered to attend a refresher course on the safe use of an AR15 rifle.