Skip to comments.Witnesses said they were forced to hide video after Beach shooting(FL)
Posted on 06/04/2011 5:32:01 AM PDT by marktwain
Two witnesses to Mondays fatal shooting on South Beach say police tried to intimidate them and force them to give up an up-close video of the incident. Police officials say the couple has not lodged a complaint.
A West Palm Beach couple who filmed Monday mornings deadly officer-involved shooting on South Beach has accused officers of intimidation, destroying evidence and twisting the facts in the chaos surrounding the Memorial Day shootings a charge that police officials say they know nothing about.
Meanwhile, a South Carolina man charged with DUI in a second officer-involved shooting that morning says he is innocent.
On Thursday, The Miami Herald spoke to the couple that saw the end of the 4 a.m. police chase on Collins Avenue, then watched and filmed from just a few feet away as a dozen officers fired their guns repeatedly into Raymond Herisses blue Hyundai. They say the only reason they were able to show the video to a reporter is because they hid a SIM card after police allegedly pointed guns at their heads, threw them to the ground and smashed the cell phone that took the video.
The three-minute video captured on Narces Benoits HTC EVO phone begins as officers crowd around the east side of Herisses car with guns drawn. Roughly 15 seconds into the video, officers open fire.
Benoit filmed the incident from the sidewalk on the northeast corner of 13th Street and Collins Avenue, close enough to see some officers faces and individual muzzle flashes.
Shortly after the gunfire ends, an officer points at Benoit and police can be heard yelling for him to turn off the camera. The voices are muffled at times. The 35-year-old car stereo technician drops his hand with the camera and hurries back to his Ford Expedition parked further east on 13th Street.
The video shows Benoit get into the car, where his girlfriend, Ericka Davis, sat in the drivers seat. He raises his camera and an officer is seen appearing on the drivers side with his gun drawn, pointed at them.
The video ends as more officers are heard yelling expletives, telling the couple to turn the video off and get out of the car.
They put guns to our heads and threw us on the ground, Davis said.
Benoit said a Miami Beach officer grabbed his cell phone, said You want to be [expletive] Paparazzi? and stomped on his phone before placing him in handcuffs and shoving the crunched phone in Benoits back pocket. He said the couple joined other witnesses already in cuffs and being watched by officers, who were on the lookout for two passengers who, police believe at the time, had bailed out of Herisses car. It is still not known whether any passengers were in the car.
Four bystanders were shot in the gunfire and three officers suffered minor injuries.
Benoit and Davis said officers smashed several other cell phones in the ensuing chaos.
Benoit said the officers eventually uncuffed him after gunshots rang out elsewhere and he discreetly removed the SIM card and placed it in his mouth.
Officers again took his phone, demanding his video. He said they took him to a nearby mobile command center, snapped a picture of him, then took him to police headquarters and conducted a recorded interview while he kept the SIM card in his mouth. He insisted his phone was broken.
He was given a copy of a police property record receipt dated May 30. The couple has hired an attorney.
We just want the right thing to be done, Davis said. That was just too much.
Police Chief Carlos Noriega said the couples allegations were the first hed heard of officers allegedly threatening people or destroying cameras or cell phones. If Benoit made a complaint, Internal Affairs would investigate, the chief said.
The scenes from the couples video that a reporter described to Noriega reflect the tension officers went through early Monday morning as they tried to get a handle on the pandemonium..
I was there during the second shooting and it was quite a chaotic scene, he said. We were trying to figure out who was who and it was a difficult process. Not once did I see cameras being taken or smashed.
He also said a lot of our officers had their guns drawn, including myself.
Noriega also noted that Benoits video is evidence and that it could help investigators.
But, Benoit said he is considering an offer from a website to sell the video.
Police say the chase Benoit and Davis saw began around 16th Street after Herisse hit a Hialeah officer with his car during a traffic stop and then peeled off down Collins Avenue, hitting or nearly hitting four other officers before skidding to a stop amid gunfire near 13th Street.
Police say they received reports that Herisse was shooting from his car, and on Wednesday they found a black Berretta 92-F semiautomatic pistol in his Hyundai.
Police also learned Thursday that he is believed to be the gunman in a November armed robbery at a BP gas station in which a clerk was shot in the face. Police say the clerk identified Herisse in a photo lineup after detectives recognized the slain 22-year-old in The Miami Herald.
Ballistics tests will be needed to prove that Herisse indeed shot the gun, and could take weeks.
But Benoit and Davis said that while they saw bullets flying everywhere as Herisse drove south for two blocks, the only ones they saw doing any shooting were police.
The couple was able to film the shooting because they were slowly driving north on Collins Avenue near 13th Street when gunshots rang out. They reversed east down 13th Street to get away from Herisses oncoming Hyundai.
They were shooting at him the whole time, Benoit said.
Also on Thursday, police released an arrest affidavit for Carlos King, 45, who allegedly drove his 2007 Mercedes Benz in a drunken stupor into a police perimeter on Washington Avenue, leading an officer to shoot at him before crashing into an empty squad car.
No one was injured.
Police say King, a 17-year-veteran and fire captain with the North Charleston Fire Department, smelled like alcohol and admitted to drinking and crashing after swerving around a car he thought was travelling too slow.
Kings lawyer, Saam Zangeneh, said his client wasnt guilty of charges of driving under the influence and refusing to take a breathalyzer. He said he expected further probing by himself and others would portray a more accurate depiction of what transpired that night.
King said he was shocked by police actions.
The way these police act is crazy, he said.
I do not know if filing a complaint with the department whose officers did all the above would be my first thought.
I hope Benoit’s attorney guides them wisely. Such a move, as much as it rankles, might be legally necessary in order to be able to bring higher authorities into the, er, picture.
My little town has solved the problem of police corruption.
We don’t have any crime and don’t have any police.
First thing is Benoit should make copies of the film from his card, because at some point the authorities might want the original which just might get lost.
It might be good to have a copy made by an impartial third party.
... and then post it all over the internet.
"Whatchya gonna do when they come for you?..."
Pretty sure the reporter did that.
I believe with the new 4G phones the data rate is great enough to stream movie content in real time to a land based server. So there wouldn’t even be a need to secrete a micro-SD card.
The fellow may be weighing the legal costs of suing and trying to help out the other wrongful targets, as he’s talking about putting it on pay per view. Me, I’d say screw it and put it on You Tube.
We learned in the OJ case that this is FELONY KIDNAPPING, put the whole bunch of these thugs in PRISON FOR LIFE
Go Henry Bowman on them...starting with whom sent them in the first place.
These days everybody talks about the absolute necessity of insurance.
Insurance is keeping a camera on your person at all times, and the peripheral technology to send it beyond the reach of the JBT (among others).
The card in this case was not much heavier than a lottery ticket, and its payout is going to be comparable.
In Chicago, it would be illegal.
It was legal in Chicago until a couple of years ago. The case went all the way to Illinois supreme court, which ruled that it was legal to photograph police in the course of their public duties.
Illinois, led by the Daley machine, promptly passed a bill making it illegal to photograph police in public.
On the positive side, I believe that there are only two or three states that have such legislation. Illinois, and I think (surprise, surprise) New Jersey are two.
This was posted on youtube....then taken down “by the user”...now it is back up
Illegal to film public servants serving in public? Oh well then, you must not do it! Laws, like police, are always right and must always be obeyed.
WOW, they just executed that guy. His car was stopped. He was surrounded. There was no need to kill the guy. It was an EXECUTION. Do the police have the power to carry out executions without an arrest, trial, and conviction? Apparently they do. Even if this guy was a murderer, which I think he was, we still can’t have the police going around killing people.
The police are out of control.
His car was stopped. He was surrounded.
There was no need to kill the guy.
It was an EXECUTION.
Do the police have the power to carry out executions without an arrest, trial, and conviction? Apparently they do.
Even if this guy was a murderer, which I think he was, we still cant have the police going around killing people.
I do not agree. It was probably a mistake, rather than an execution. Perhaps even an understandable mistake. It often goes down like this:
The information the police have is that they have a dangerous guy who has just murdered someone.
They are yelling at him to show his hands, get out of the car. Maybe they are giving conflicting commands.
He makes a move to a) grab a gun b) undo a seatbelt.
Everyone is on the edge of shooting because this is a very dangerous guy. Someone pulls the trigger because they think he is going for a gun.
Every Police officer there joins in.
It is the coverup that gets you.
An execution would have been if they pulled the guy out of the car, put a gun to the back of his head, and blew his brains out with one shot.
I’m not sure what generation of HTC Evo they were using, but i’m posting on an Evo now. There is no removable memory card.
What with police vigilantism and the PRC dumping US Treasuries, the US may now be officially a Third World state.
Perhaps the UN can direct some foreign aid and NGO monitors to population centers such as Miami so that the citizens can feel secure and the US not become just another failed state.
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