Miami-Dade resident on police firing at neighbor: ‘He was down and they were shooting still'

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – “God is with you and with me,” a man said in Spanish, as he held a machete and walked towards a police officer in southwest Miami-Dade County.

A Miami-Dade police officer shouted an order — “Drop the machete!” — just before bullets started flying. The armed man survived the police-involved shooting on Friday afternoon in The Crossings neighborhood.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators are scrutinizing officers’ use of force.

A witness who asked not to be named said surveillance video shows officers arrived during a neighbors’ dispute along Southwest 126th Avenue near Southwest 109th Terrace in the neighborhood’s Devon-Aire area.

Neighbors said surveillance video shows the man, who suffers disabilities stemming from a stroke, had been asking a neighbor to move his car from his property. The driver refused to move his car and called 911 to report the armed property owner was a threat.

The officers did not give the armed man a chance to explain, the witness said. Detective Alvaro Zabaleta, a spokesman for the department, said officers did everything they could to “deescalate” the situation, as the armed man was threatening residents.

A witness disagrees and said officers rushed to fire their weapons and shot too many times.

“Why did they have to shoot him? He was down and they were shooting still,” a neighbor who witnessed the shooting said.

Zabaleta said the officers perceived the man to be a threat.

“Daylight, inside a community, a residential area — where there are children in the area — and you have somebody waving a machete, it is a great danger to the community,” Zabaleta said on Friday. “And thankfully, these officers were able to respond rather quickly.”

A neighbor said the armed property owner had not been a public threat, as the 911 caller and officers alleged, and the surveillance video supports that because it shows he didn’t get out of his property until officers arrived.

FDLE has talked to witnesses and included the video as evidence in the ongoing investigation.

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About the Authors:

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.