Gibson Belizaire: Victim or criminal?

By the time the bullets slammed into the Tripod Collision & Repair Shop's concrete walls — thwack, thwack, thwack — Gibson Junior Belizaire had nowhere left to run.

A slight five feet four inches tall and weighing a hair more than 130 pounds, Belizaire crouched into a small corner behind the shop at NW 62nd Street and Second Avenue. The muddy yard flashed red and blue in the swaying, early-afternoon police lights.

A tall chainlink fence had kept the cops at bay for a few hours while Belizaire cradled a gun and thought about his next move. But now, suddenly, the bullets were flying. Crack, crack!

Wesley and Guerlyne Belizaire stand near the corner where police killed their brother Gibson.
Tim Elfrink
Wesley and Guerlyne Belizaire stand near the corner where police killed their brother Gibson.
Candles burn in a memorial to Gibson Belizaire at the site of his death.
Tim Elfrink
Candles burn in a memorial to Gibson Belizaire at the site of his death.

Then the rounds found their mark. One and then two tore through Belizaire's raised forearms. Another nicked his leg. The last thing he might have felt was both shinbones shattering.

When the shooting stopped and the police moved in, the 21-year-old was riddled with 18 bullets. One had burst through his eyeball and into his brain. Two others had made a mess of his temple and the top of his skull. Seventy-seven shells lay on the ground. Belizaire was dead.

One month later, Belizaire's death is mostly a footnote in a hotly debated six weeks when Miami Police fatally shot four suspects in Overtown, Liberty City, and Little Haiti. The killings have left black Miami teetering on a violent edge in a way unseen in a decade and have led community leaders to question new police Chief Miguel Exposito's tactics.

Belizaire's story has never been told in full because, of the four men killed by police, his death seemed the easiest to accept. He had a criminal record, he was armed, and he allegedly fired at police. Breaking precedent from the other cases, MPD never named the cops who shot him.

But senior police sources have confirmed to New Times that among the officers who killed Belizaire were Eric Guzman and George Diaz. Both have troubling records of violence against suspects, and each has killed another man in the past year. Add it up, and his case raises even more questions for the department to answer about this deadly summer.

"Under [former Chief John] Timoney, he preached not to use deadly force unless it's the last alternative," says Larry Handfield, a lawyer chairing a panel formed by city Commissioner Richard Dunn to investigate the shootings. "The new message is, 'We'll take the streets back and meet violence with violence.' That permeates down."

Gibson Belizaire was born March 31, 1989, in Little Haiti. His mother, Julina Belizaire, had emigrated from Haiti to the Bahamas before making her way with Gibson's four older siblings to Miami. His father, Aggerholin Joseph, was long gone by the time he was born.

He grew up poor, moving with his family from one rundown house to another. Julina cared for her children as best as she could, but she was a single mom without much money, so the kids spent a lot of time looking out for each other. "I pretty much raised him," says Elcie Belizaire, his oldest sibling, who now lives in Atlanta. "We all stuck together and kind of helped each other."

Gibson, who was always slight-framed and smart, went to Little River Elementary, Miami Edison Middle, and then North Miami Beach High. From a young age, he looked out for his family, his siblings say. "He was the kind of guy who never had much but would give you his last dime if it'd help," says Wesley Belizaire, his older brother.

But Gibson also had a chip on his shoulder, and his clashes with the law began early. Records show he was booked into juvenile detention in March 2000, when he was just 11 years old, for assault. The next year, he was back for beating up a sports official. Minor arrests followed in 2004 and 2005, for marijuana possession and resisting arrest without violence.

His trouble grew more serious in 2006, when he was 17. On November 16, police pulled over a 2003 Buick LeSabre near NE 75th Street and Second Avenue for an expired tag. As the officer approached, he spotted Belizaire stashing a chrome .38 Rossi handgun under the seat, according to the police report. He was booked for carrying a concealed weapon and stolen property.

Less than a month later, he was arrested again and charged with cocaine possession. Then, on June 20, 2007, cops spotted him in a "well-known" coke-dealing spot on NW 42nd Street. When they approached, he dropped a bag full of crack.

A psychologist examined the 18-year-old before he went on trial for drug charges. The report paints a picture of a bright but confused and angry young man. The doctor found he was "functionally illiterate" but well above average in intelligence and "excellent in math."

"A lack of nurture has fueled the intense anger within him," the doctor wrote. When he showed the teen some Rorschach inkblots representing a mother, Belizaire saw a "moth flying away" and felt sad. The psychologist recommended antidepressants but also cleared him to stand trial. In August 2007, a judge sentenced him to one year of probation.

His last serious charge came in May 2009, when he was booked after trying to buy a bag of pot. He was found guilty but released with time served.

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16 comments
Toneyjames69
Toneyjames69

FUCK WRONG WIT YAL HATERS I HOPE THE POLICE SHOOT YAL MAMMAS AND LETS C WAT YAL GOT 2 SAY R.I.P GIB MY NIGGA LOVE U BRA

RIP GIBSON
RIP GIBSON

Bitch azz fuk nikka fuck you dat was ma fukkin nigga yal dnt know shit bout it so shut da fuk up

Gerald
Gerald

The police is killing and terrorizing. I'm not sure if this young man was any less deserving of life like the two police officers killed in Tampa. The status quo would have you believed that any minority killed is a number,a convict, etc. Criminals should get smart and return the favor to the politicians who are sending these monters on the streets.An eye for an eye but not the police, simply the politicians at all or any levels

1shot 1kill
1shot 1kill

great job MPD. i hope you gave that officer a medal. keep up the great work guys.

why
why

I didn't know they prescribed anti-depressants for illiteracy, I guess they prescribe them for everything. I guess we don't need doctors anymore. Just drug companies. One size kills all.

Shoot at cops, get dead
Shoot at cops, get dead

Did the kids family teach him to use drugs? Who taught him to shoot at cops?

Families need to take responsibility.

Not smart to shoot at cops
Not smart to shoot at cops

Which family member taught the kid to shoot at cops?

Neighborhoods want to be safe. Who gave this idiot kid a gun?

Culling the herd?

DAPIMPDADDY
DAPIMPDADDY

What's wrong with Miami New Times? This newspaper is getting just as bad as the Herald. They have the balls to make this animal an innocent victim! This POS got what he deserved. From now on, he will no longer be a burden to the taxpayers. Good job MPD.

princess
princess

Armando aguilar seems to have in his head that everything a police does is justify!!! im not saying that this confused young man has a great record, but they are other incidents where cops feel they are superman because they carry a badge, when half of them are as scary as they come when they be on the street with out their uniform! half of these officers are corrupted, and half of them use to get their butt wooped in school and now because they carry a badge they want to het even with whom ever!!!!!! God I miss Chief Tomoney!

mike
mike

I was there. The CRIMINAL didnt have to beat up his girlfriend, the CRIMINAL didnt have to run from officers, the CRIMINAL fired enough rounds at the two INITIAL officers that he shot at that he had to exchange magazines, the CRIMINALs gun was the first one I heard in the final firefight, the CRIMINAL made the choice to go out fighting a stupid fight he knew he could not win. The Miami New times continues to write these PRO-scumbag pieces and forgets to mention the fact that the officers mentioned, the GOODGUYS!!!, have children of their own, families of their own, and they deserve to go home to see them. That piece of garbage leech on society deserved to get exactly what he got. He made the choice. He chose poorly. Let me remind the men and women at the MNT, while you sleep, these men keep you safe. While you run away from the fight, they run toward it. Police work, isnt pretty. It isnt always neat and tidy and clean. Hard working officers get more complaints than officers who sit in their cars and do nothing. Just like driving more miles increases your risk of an accident. Its the law of averages. I realize the writers of the MNT are liberal hacks. The writing is at best mediocre. Could you at least TRY to be less biased than Fox news. Its embarrassing.

Pepe Whocares
Pepe Whocares

Are these articles being written by inmates in jail or prison? I pray that all these moron reporters eventually have to call police and see what happens when no one shows up. Hopefully you can use this outstanding paper to publish your concerns why police can care less about most reporters. Wow lets praise these thugs that rob steal and kill innocent people by blaming others and lets not hold anyone accountable. That sounds like the perfect life

Appleseed
Appleseed

Wesley, I really does make sense. Your brother had a gun, ran from police, shot at the police (let's say he didn't), had his child's mother call 911 for domestic violence, sold and brought drugs...How does this not make sense? You can't do that sort of thing and expect good things to happen.

Caeser Palache
Caeser Palache

Awesome job, MPD. Keep-up the great work. It's amazing, same story from the families: "not my son, he good...he neva hurt nobody."

 
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