Trigger-Happy Cops in South Florida
MIAMI (CN) - Police officers unloaded more than 100 rounds into a busy street in Miami Beach during Memorial Day weekend 2011, injuring innocent bystanders, a victim claims in court.
Cedrick Perkins sued Miami Beach and the City of Hialeah, the cities' mayors and police chiefs and 12 police officers, in Federal Court.
Perkins, of Tallahassee, says he was in Miami Beach during Memorial Day weekend in 2011 to celebrate "Urban Beach Week." The annual hip-hop festival attracts tens of thousands of party lovers to South Beach.
Perkins was on the porch of a hotel on Collins Avenue, a popular tourist location in Miami Beach, when city police officers fired more than 100 bullets into a car, shooting a man 16 times and killing him, according to the lawsuit.
Perkins says some of the bullets hit him and other innocent bystanders, causing them serious injuries.
The shootout happened on May 30, 2011, after a Palm Beach resident, Raymond Herisse, allegedly tried to run over police officers on Collins Avenue.
The officers opened fire around 4 a.m., killing Herisse and injuring at least three other people, according to the Miami Herald. The barrage was captured on camera and broadcast repeatedly on CNN and other news networks.
A police spokesman claimed the officers who shot Herisse feared for their lives because they believed shots had been fired from the car. He said Herisse had refused to stop, hit several cars and nearly ran over one officer - conduct that amounted to aggravated assault.
A handgun wrapped inside a towel was found days after the shooting, but the autopsy found no gunshot residue on Herisse's hands, according to the Miami Herald.
Miami-Dade County prosecutors said they will complete their investigation into the death of Herisse within the next few months.
"During the shooting incident, plaintiff Cedrick Perkins was standing on the porch of a hotel on Collins Avenue where he was a guest, and was not involved in any unlawful activity or behavior," Perkins' complaint states. "Mr. Perkins was an innocent bystander, who was shot by one of the barrage of over 100 bullets Miami Beach Police Department officers and Hialeah Police Department officers unloaded on crowded Collins Avenue. The bullet that struck Mr. Perkins lodged near his heart. As a result, Mr. Perkins sustained permanent and ongoing injuries and damages, and will suffer said injuries and damages for the remainder of his life."
Perkins claims Miami Beach and Hialeah have a pattern of negligent hiring, retention and supervision. He says the police departments failed to properly train and supervise their officers, and let them use excessive force against people, in particular African-American citizens, who made up most of the Urban Beach Week crowd.
Perkins seeks damages for negligence, battery and excessive force, lost wages and medical expenses.
He is represented by Jasmine Rand with Parks & Crump of Tallahassee.
Representatives for Miami Beach and Hialeah did not respond to requests for comment.