- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) - South Florida prosecutors say they are wrapping up their investigation into the death of a man killed in a barrage of police gunfire during the 2011 Urban Beach Week hip-hop festival.

Miami-Dade County prosecutors say their probe into the death of Raymond Herisse should be complete within the next several months.

The shooting contributed to the annual festival’s reputation for large crowds, violence and heavy police presence. This year, though, the crowds seem to be smaller.

Miami Beach Police reported 135 arrests from Thursday evening through Sunday morning. That’s down from 247 arrests during the same time period last year.

Police reported 414 arrests for the entire Memorial Day weekend event last year.

Three bystanders also were injured when officers from multiple police agencies fired more than 100 shots at Herisse’s car after police said he was driving erratically on Miami Beach and hit one officer. An autopsy showed Herisse was struck at least 16 times. His blood-alcohol level was above Florida’s 0.08 legal limit.

A handgun wrapped inside a towel was found days after the shooting, but the autopsy found no gunshot residue on Herisse’s hands.

“This investigation has been complicated by a three-block-long investigative crime scene involving multiple police agencies, which added another layer to the comprehensive legal review of the facts and the evidence,” State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ed Griffith told The Miami Herald (https://hrld.us/1kfvzBf ). “The work on this investigation has been steadily progressing and hopefully will be completed by the end of the summer.”

The probe will show whether prosecutors believe any officers broke the law in firing their weapons.

Herisse’s family has filed a civil rights and negligence lawsuit seeking damages for his death. Cedrick Perkins, one of the injured bystanders, has filed an excessive force lawsuit against officers from the Miami Beach and Hialeah police departments. Another injured bystander, Carlson St. Louis, also plans to file a lawsuit next week, according to his lawyer, Eli Stiers.

“He remains optimistic that justice, although delayed, will ultimately prevail, and that the city of Miami Beach and the city of Hialeah will be held accountable for the reckless actions of these officers,” Stiers said.

Alex Bello, the head of Miami Beach’s police union, said radio chatter released last year showed officers feared for their lives because they believed shots had been fired from the car. Herisse’s conduct also amounted to aggravated assault, Bello said.

“We feel very confident that the officers will be ruled justified in the shootings,” Bello said.

The attorney for Herisse’s family, Marwan Porter, said Herisse stopped his car long enough to be allowed to surrender before officers opened fire.

“He posed no threat to anyone,” Porter said.


Information from: The Miami Herald, https://www.herald.com

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