Gibson Belizaire Shooting Was Justified, Prosecutors Say, But Family Has Questions
A memorial to Gibson Belizaire in the Little Haiti corner where he died last August.
photo by Tim Elfrink
Last August, Gibson Belizaire died under a hail of bullets in a grimy corner behind a Little Haiti body shop. Five cops -- including two with troubling records of violence -- blasted more than 130 rounds at the slight 21-year-old, killing him instantly after he'd run from a roadblock and fired a handgun at police.
Prosecutors released a report yesterday ruling that police were justified in killing Belizaire, but his relatives say they have questions. "I'm not surprised, but I still find it hard to understand why they call in a SWAT team to fire 130 rounds at one guy," his brother, Wesley Belizaire, tells Riptide.
The report, which you can read below in full, fills in many of the blanks left by initial police reports after the August 14, 2010 shooting.
As we reported in an in-depth piece on the killing -- one of seven fatal police shootings in Miami over the last year -- Belizaire grew up poor in Little Haiti and clashed often with police as a teenager. Criminal charges ranged from gun possession to pot to cocaine.
On the morning of his last run-in with police, according to the prosecutor's report, Belizaire fought with Angenard Alexis, the mother of his son, over whether he could see his child. She called police, saying she was scared of Belizaire, and he left with his sister, Linda.
A few blocks away, at NW 2nd Ave and 62nd Street, an officer spotted the pair in a gold Jaguar; he blocked the car, drew his gun and then demanded that Belizaire come out.
For reasons unexplained in the report, Belizaire "produced a handgun, and fired in the direction of the [cops,]" prosecutors write.
He ran away through oncoming traffic and police called in a K9 unit and a SWAT team to track him down. They found him in a corner behind the nearby Tripod Collision Repair. He "fired on the SWAT team" first, the report says, then was shot to death by the police.
"Belizaire's actions put fear in the mind of (the police) that violence was imminent," the report concludes.
What prosecutors don't mention, and we reported last year, is that two of the cops involved -- Officers Eric Guzman and George Diaz -- had between them used force on 35 suspects and accumulated seven citizen complaints in six years; each had killed another suspect that year.
Wesley Belizaire said he doubts the report will put to rest the lingering questions he has about his brother's death. "He was trapped in a corner behind the building," Wesley Belizaire says. "And yet they had no other options but to shoot at him that many times to kill him on the spot?"
Here's the report:
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