Following Police Shooting, Miami Beach Makes Bad Situation Worse

While cops continue to scapegoat black festivalgoers, are they also planting evidence to help build their case?

By Channing Kennedy Jun 03, 2011

Earlier this week, we wrote about the racialized controversy surrounding Miami Beach’s annual Memorial Day Urban Beach Week Festival. The anxiety came to a head on Monday when police opened fire on Raymond Herisse, a 22-year-old black man, killing him; four bystanders and three officers were injured in the process.

At the time, reports that unseen individuals in the car had been firing back at police were unconfirmed, and police said they found no gun in the car. The Miami Herald reports that on Wednesday, after leaving the car in the street all Monday morning, police finally found a gun:

Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega, concerned about the publicity surrounding the shooting, late Wednesday called the gun’s discovery "great news." The gun was found about 7 p.m. when investigators were processing the car, he said.

"Everything is panning out the way we believe it happened," he said. "It’s a very important development."

It took police several days to find the weapon because it was out of sight, Noriega said. Investigators first had focused on processing the crime scenes and on talking to witnesses, he said.

Noriega said he could not say whether the gun had been fired.

"We were told he was seen with a firearm and, sure enough, there was a firearm in the car," Noriega said. "We were told he discharged his firearm. Now, we need to confirm that with ballistics."

Over at the Awl, Choire Sicha collects the array of reports of Miami Beach police seizing news cameras and smashing cell phones, arresting onlookers, and shooting at a black man who turned out to be a fire department captain on vacation. Miami Beach’s police department has also come under fire by civil rights groups for declaring the filming of police to be illegal.

Herisse has since been identified as a suspect in a November gas station robbery. Meanwhile, Herb Sosa, the Miami-area Latino gay rights advocate and conservative darling who previously referred to the wealthy black festivalgoers as an "unruly & dangerous mob," is leading community rallies and Facebook movements to end Urban Beach week.