How a violent confrontation led to a military veteran's death
Attorneys say apartment complex pushed fragile man over the edge
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – It was a story that shocked a South Florida community last year: An elderly military veteran with a gun was shot down by police in a hail of bullets.
New body camera video given to Local 10 News showed how and why it happened, and how possible discrimination by the man's apartment complex could have contributed to his death.
"For the love of God, man, please put your hands up!" an officer can be heard shouting in exclusive body camera video obtained by Local 10 News.
The video details the desperate standoff between Miami-Dade police officers and Raymond Bishop. Bishop, an 84-year-old disabled military veteran, was threatening to shoot himself inside his apartment.
"I do not want to hurt you," one officer said. "Sir, you are a veteran. You are a hero to us. Please, please do not do this!"
The video is from February 2018, after a 911 call from Bishop's social worker, Jaye Harkow, with the Department of Veteran Affairs, brought officers to the Hidden Grove apartments near Homestead.
"He told me he was going to kill his two dogs and himself," Harkow said on the call. "I would say he's grossly depressed because the place where he is living is evicting him."
The situation ended tragically when Bishop refused to drop his weapon and instead raised the handgun. Officers shot him six times, killing him.
The reason for the confrontation was an ongoing legal battle with management at Hidden Grove, which was trying to evict him over his two service and emotional support dogs.
"It ended horribly and it was unnecessary," said attorney Matthew Dietz of the Disability Independence Group, who is representing Bishop's family in the ongoing eviction case.
Court documents show Bishop suffered from multiple disabilities, including a loss of vision and mood disorders. The complex started trying to kick him out in July 2017, after one of his two small dogs was off leash and nearly bit a resident. But neighbors said the woman was fine and didn't want to take any action.
"The girl withdrew her charges," one neighbor who did not want to be identified told Local 10 News investigative reporter Amy Viteri. "But they (management) continued, because they wanted the apartment, period."
Bishop went to his doctors at the VA, who provided letters saying his two dogs -- Ranger, who is 10 years old and blind, and Roxie, who is deaf with a deformed leg -- were essential to his well-being. Dietz said the property manager, Roxanna Sanchez, first refused to see Bishop and then ignored his letters.
"This is one of the largest management companies in the state of Florida," Dietz said. "They're trained on the Fair Housing Act."
Shortly before the shooting, management told Bishop that, regardless of what happened with the eviction case, they would not be renewing his lease when it was up at the end of the month. Bishop believed he and the dogs would have nowhere to go.
In her 911 call, Harkow said, "We are having a very hard time finding him accommodations that will take care of the dogs."
Bishop left a suicide note addressing the housing dilemma: "I am incapable of keeping myself and my very precious friends, Ranger & Roxie in reasonable comfort and good health. …There being no place that we three … can go together."
"For Mr. Bishop, these dogs were his medication. They were his reason for living and waking up in the morning and when he thought he couldn't have them anymore, he killed himself -- technically, by using the police," Dietz said.
Crime scene photos showed one of the dogs hiding in the bed after the shooting. Both dogs have been living with a friend of Bishop's since the shooting.
Management at Hidden Grove had nothing to say when asked about the eviction.
Bishop's granddaughter, Ashley Huntsberry-Lett, spoke with Viteri from Virginia via Skype.
"It's not right to treat people that way," she said.
Huntsberry-Lett said management bullied her fragile grandfather to his breaking point.
"I feel that they're 100% culpable," she said. "He was a disabled man who had nowhere else to go."
Dietz said the complex had an obligation to try to address the concern before evicting Bishop and had an opportunity to show compassion.
"They know about what emotional support animals are," he said. "And they knew what to do in this situation and they chose not to. And that's why Mr. Bishop is dead."
Bishop's family also said his computers and televisions, which were visible in police photos, were missing from his apartment when management finally allowed relatives to enter.
An attorney representing Hidden Grove has not returned calls regarding this story.
Copyright 2019 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.