'He tried to run me over,' man tells police after he shoots accused car thief

Thief dies after crashing luxury SUV into Office Depot, Miami Beach police say

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Ian Margol - Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Cellphone video taken shortly after a shooting Tuesday in Miami Beach shows the victim lying on the ground outside a car wash where his Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV had been reportedly stolen.

"He tried to run me f***ing over, man," the man, identified by police as Stephen A. Lott, 48, said. "You know who I am. I'm not a threat."

The video was taken by a witness after police said the luxury SUV was stolen from a car wash just west of Alton Road and 18th Street.

According to authorities, Lott witnessed his vehicle being stolen and fired at the thief.

"My client didn't wake up yesterday morning thinking that he would be in the position that he is in today," Lott's attorney, Michael Grieco, told Local 10 News Wednesday.

Sky 10 was above the scene shortly after 10:30 a.m. Tuesday after the white SUV had crashed into an Office Depot across the street. A black vehicle also appeared to be damaged in the crash. 

"I looked back and I saw, like, a car into the wall and there was debris flying everywhere," witness Elizabeth Szkolnik said. 

Another witness told Local 10 News reporter Andrew Perez that the suspect had been shot in the head. 

Police later surrounded the Mercedes-Benz, broke the windows and pulled out the suspect, who was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he later died. 

"Not only did it crash into the side of the Office Depot. You see a hole in the wall due to the size of the vehicle. It actually struck one of the FPL power poles," Miami Beach police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez said. "So as we were trying to make contact with the occupant inside, we also had to simultaneously call FPL to ensure the power in that area was shut off and the poles were de-energized, which takes some time." 

Rodriguez said Lott was interviewed by detectives and has since been released from custody.

He said investigators will continue reviewing evidence and will work with the Miami-Dade County state attorney's office to determine whether charges will be filed.

"In a very quick moment like that, you have to take action in order to protect yourself and others, and my client did so," Grieco said. "The law is on the side of my client, I strongly believe this is a justified shooting based upon the information that I have, and I'm just hoping that people don't rush to judgment and say that this is somebody acting recklessly, as opposed to somebody acting within their rights."

Grieco said Lott is legally permitted to carry a firearm and is trained to do so, as well. 

The deceased suspect was identified Wednesday as 58-year-old Jose Antonio Reyes Bermudez.

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