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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The family of a teen armed robbery suspect killed by police early Thursday morning in Homestead wants answers from police.
Miami-Dade Police identified Jorge Santiago Tapia, 15, as the person walking into a Walgreens store wearing a blue bandana over his mouth and neck and wearing sunglasses. Surveillance video shows the Coconut Palm Academy 8th grader walking up to the clerk with a gun in his left hand and demanding cash.
The new surveillance shows the gun that police believe was pulled out by the suspect before he was shot.
“There should be justice for what they did to him,” said Angelica Santiago, the suspect’s sister. “The cops should have waited to see who was the suspect, not just say he was a grown man, who was going to kill them.”
It all started just before 2 a.m. when a call to 9-1-1 said an armed man in a mask robbed a Walgreens at SW 288th Street and South Dixie Highway. Police say he threatened the clerk at gunpoint.
“He had a mask on, he demanded money be placed inside his book bag and that’s when he fled the scene,” said Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta.
Arriving officers spotted a car that matched the description of a vehicle that the armed man drove off in.
After a brief pursuit, Zabaleta said Santiago’s car got a flat tire and came to a stop. Shots were fired.
“This individual, not only did he use the gun to commit the armed robbery, of course we have to assume he used the gun against the officers as well,” said Zabaleta.
Santiago’s sister says she believes her brother’s motivation was to help out the family. She says their father was in the process of being deported to Mexico and the family needed money.
“For the house, for the bills we can’t afford right now. Since I have other siblings, they’re younger and he didn’t want them to suffer,” said Angelica Santiago.
A total of seven officers fired at the man who was killed. The president of the local police union said the officers believed the man had pulled a gun on them. It’s not clear if the man shot at the officers.
“We were dealing with an armed robber so it was a dangerous situation,” said Zabaleta. “We could have had officers injured or killed.”
Police recovered a handgun and backpack from the man’s car. None of the officers were injured.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating whether the shooting was justified.
“He was a good kid. He did everything for his family. It’s just unbelievable what’s going on right now,” said Santiago’s sister.
“The streets are meaner than ever before,” said John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Police Benevolent Association. “There’s a greater proliferation of firearms out on the streets than ever before. There’s a greater disregard for human life whether it’s the police or citizens. The system allows these criminals out sooner. The criminals are more brazen.”
Rivera told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “Most people do not realize how quick a split-second decision is, especially when you are in the heat of battle as you call it. It’s a very dangerous situation. Now we have all the time in the world to Monday morning quarterback but those officers who had to do that split-second decision on the job are all heroes and we should applaud them. It’s a dangerous world out there.”
“Whether police are being attacked they still have a job to do and we will continue to do it,” said Rivera.
The is the third deadly shooting involving Miami-Dade police in the last few weeks.
Rivera said he expected the officers would be placed on administrative duties for at least days, pending the investigation.