Man will not face charges for fatally shooting car thief in Miami Beach

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A South Florida man will not face charges for fatally shooting a car thief who took off with his boss’ Mercedes-Benz G-class SUV in Miami Beach, prosecutors announced in a closeout memo obtained Tuesday by Local 10 News.

According to the closeout memo, Stephen Allen Lott, now 50, shot the suspect, Jose Antonio Reyes Bermudez, 58, on Dec. 18, 2018, outside the South Beach Finest Hand Car Wash at 1229 18th St.

Prosecutors said Lott had taken the luxury vehicle, which is owned by his employers, to the car wash when he saw Reyes Bermudez get into the driver’s seat of the vehicle and try to drive away.

Prosecutors said Lott ran outside of the car wash waiting area and shouted at the suspect to try to stop him.

As he stepped into the path of the Mercedes, which was traveling at a high rate of speed, he fired two shots at the driver-side door, shooting Reyes Bermudez once in the head, the closeout memo stated.

Authorities said the SUV then crossed both lanes of traffic on 18th Street, struck a parked car, and then crashed into the wall of an Office Depot.

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 the day of the shooting. “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.”

According to the closeout memo, the suspect had attempted to steal another Mercedes from the car wash business earlier in the morning, but the owner was waiting outside and immediately claimed his vehicle.

Prosecutors have since cleared Lott of wrongdoing, saying in the closeout memo that he “had the legal right to stand his ground and use deadly force to protect himself from death or great bodily harm while Mr. Reyes Bermudez was committing and escaping from committing a forcible felony.”

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