In a new development in the racially charged controversy surrounding the deadly shootings by police officers at Miami's Annual Memorial Day Urban Beach Week Festival, the Miami Herald reports that a couple who filmed the incident has accused officers of intimidation, destroying evidence and twisting the facts.
Narces Benoit and his girlfriend, Ericka Davis, told the newspaper that they saw the end of the 4 a.m. police chase that preceded the shooting, and then used a cellphone to film from just a few feet away as a dozen officers fired their guns repeatedly into 22-year-old Raymond Herisse's blue Hyundai. Herisse was killed, and four bystanders and three officers were injured in the process.
The couple says they hid the phone's memory card after police allegedly pointed guns at their heads, threw them to the ground and smashed the phone on which the incident was recorded, the Herald reports.
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. 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. Not to mention, the fact that it took police so long to find the weapon raised some suspicion about whether it was there in the first place.
From the Miami Herald:
The three-minute video captured on Narces Benoit’s HTC EVO phone begins as officers crowd around the east side of Herisse's 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 driver's seat. He raises his camera and an officer is seen appearing on the driver’s 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.
According to Benoit, a Miami Beach officer said, "You want to be [expletive] paparazzi?" and grabbed and stomped on his phone before placing him in handcuffs and shoving the crunched phone in Benoit's back pocket. He says that officers demanded his video and took his phone again, drove 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 and insisted that his phone was broken.
The couple has hired an attorney. "We just want the right thing to be done," Davis said. "That was just too much."
It's saddening that when it comes to police shootings involving African-American victims, the existence of a huge gap between what really happened and "the right thing" doesn't surprise us in the least.
Watch a different YouTube video shot from a balcony above the shooting here:
Read more at the Miami Herald.
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