Ever since police unloaded 115 rounds into a car driven by 22-year-old Palm Beach man Raymond Herisse on Memorial Day weekend two years ago -- a firefight that wounded five bystanders and was caught on video -- a key question has been, What triggered that onslaught of firepower? Police waited days to announce they'd found a gun in Herisse's car, but did he start the barrage by firing at cops?
A newly released lab report strongly suggests Herisse never pulled the trigger. He tested negative for gunpowder residue on his hands, a key forensic clue in shooting cases, the Miami Herald reports.
Herisse's family's lawyer, Marwan Porter, slammed police over the report, telling the Herald: "Any notion that Raymond fired a gun out of his vehicle, which may have allegedly given justification to unleash 100 rounds in his vehicle, is unfounded."
It's never been clear exactly what sparked the barrage from police that killed Herisse and wounded five others on the scene. The repeated blasts of police fire played on loop on CNN for days after the shooting:
The newly released report is public because Herisse's family and the innocent bystanders hit by police fire sued the department and accused them of dragging their feet on their investigation; a judge ordered some of the records from that investigation released last week.
The lab report contradicts then-Chief Carlos Noriega's story: After police found a Baretta 92-F in the backseat, he said, "We were told he discharged his firearm. Now we need to confirm that with ballistics."
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But it likely won't change the department's justification for killing Herisse (who was later named a suspect in a Boynton Beach robbery). They say he tried to run down officers with his car, and using a vehicle as a weapon is considered sufficient provocation for police to fire in most cases.
Whether or not he fired, police union chief Sgt. Alex Bello tells the Herald, doesn't change the case. "Regardless of whether or not he had gunshot residue on his hands, the guy was clearly a threat in an automobile that can take out a bunch of people," Bello says.