Newly released video of a fatal police shooting in Miami Gardens, Fl. shows the victim’s mother pleading with officers before they kill her mentally ill son.
“Don’t hurt my child,” the mother is heard saying. A lawyer for the family said the officers can be heard mocking her in the video as well.
Video reviewed by Fusion shows no struggle between officers and Lavall Hall, 25, as shots were fired. One officer yelled "get on the fucking ground or you're dead" before firing five shots at Hall.
It is the second graphic video of a police shooting in two days, coming after footage was released of a North Charleston, South Carolina officer shooting a black man in the back, on Tuesday.
Nineteen minutes of video depicting Hall's shooting was made public today by the family, after a months-long fight to release the dashcam video from a police cruiser.
Hall's mother had called police to help take her son to a mental hospital. He was having a schizophrenic episode, during which he had threatened her with a broomstick. She had called the police only a week earlier to do the same.
"I was so devastated to see that it happened like that," Catherine Daniels, Hall's mother, said of the video at a press conference on Wednesday.
"There's no question when you see this video that the officers used excessive force in dealing with an individual who had mental issues," family attorney Glen Goldberg told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday. He acknowledged much of the nation's attention is focused the graphic footage of the South Carolina shooting of Walter Scott.
But he said the Miami Gardens case warrants equal scrutiny and outrage.
"What the country should be talking about is a shooting in Miami Gardens. That shooting in Miami Gardens should have never taken place. These officers were not trained, and did not operate effectively," he said, evoking the officer's violent response to an individual they were aware suffered from a serious mental illness.
The video appears to contradict initial police accounts of the incident, which maintained that Hall attacked officers with a broomstick handle upon arrival, and that they tried shocking Hall with Tasers before firing their service weapons.
"You don't hear the Tasers going off in the video," said fellow family attorney Judd Rosen. He said that the legal team has requested Taser logs, which document each time a Taser is deployed, from the police department, but has yet to receive anything.
There were other police vehicles on the scene equipped with dashcam cameras, Rosen noted, but his team has only been able to recover the video released today.
In a written statement, Miami Gardens police wrote the following: "City of Miami Gardens released video from the dashboard camera of a city vehicle, as well as the video from the rear camera of a City of Miami Gardens vehicle. The release of these videos represents the Department's complete response to Ms. Daniels' request."
Disgraced former police chief Steve Johnson, who was fired after being arrested for soliciting a prostitute in the wake of Hall's shooting, said that the officers "did the best they could" in a press conference at the time.
Earlier this week, the official account began to come under fire, as neighbors who said they witnessed the incident told local public radio station WLRN that Hall did not have the broomstick in his hand when he was shot.
“When I look he ain’t have nothing in his hand,” neighbor Tyrone Bennett told the station. "He had on boxers and a undershirt.”
One of the responding officers, Eddo Trimino, had previously fired his weapon on duty in a 2013, when he killed a suspected murderer during a shoot out. He was was not disciplined.
In February, Hall's shooting temporarily brought protests to the troubled city with a long, well documented history of police abuses. A Fusion investigation last year found that the city's stop and frisk policy was so rampant and abusive that we named it "Suspect City," a phrase residents have come to adopt.
Notably, the city of about 110,000 is one of the largest black-majority cities in the nation, and was also the hometown of Trayvon Martin, the black teen whose 2012 shooting by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, began a renewed national conversation about race, violence and the criminal justice system.
Hall's shooting has brought about a local discussion about how police interact with the mentally ill; something especially important in Miami-Dade county, as it has the nation's highest rate of mental illnesses.
“I am 100 percent PTSD, and I get mad,” Alonso Hill, a cousin of Hall, told a city council meeting shortly after the shooting. “I don’t know if I suffer through a mentally ill attack tonight, if you will let your officers shoot me down like a dog. I’m scared, because they have a green light.”
“I’m scared as hell to be in Miami Gardens,” he said.
In a letter to the family attorney, Florida State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said: "we cannot prevent you from releasing the video. But she warned that making the video public could undermine the investigation, she added. "This potential contamination may compromise our common goal to seek the truth and undermine the integrity of the investigation.”
Hall's family has filed a civil right lawsuit with the city and the two officers involved with the shooting. The case is being investigated by the Florida State Attorney's Office.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.