Pork 'n' Beans projects in Liberty City.
Pork 'n' Beans projects in Liberty City.
Photo by George Martinez

Miami-Dade Police Reportedly Shoot and Kill Unarmed Man in Liberty City

Miami-Dade County Police officers pulled over 27-year-old Anthony Ford last night in Liberty City. According to a departmental news release, Ford and another man fled from their red Nissan, and then "confrontation ensued and shots were fired."

Ford died last night. Investigators have reportedly learned he was unarmed.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating what happened. FDLE would not provide any additional details to New Times via phone today, but unnamed sources involved in the investigation told the Miami Herald that Ford was not carrying a weapon when he was killed. The cop who shot Ford was identified as Sgt. Eduardo Pares, who has been an MDPD cop for 17 years.

According to MDPD, the officers conducted a routine traffic stop on the corner of NW 15th Avenue and NW 68th Terrace. The cops ID'ed the two men and found that each had open arrest warrants. Police claim that Ford then tried to flee while the other man in the car was arrested.

"A perimeter was established and while one of the detectives was conducting an area search within the perimeter, he located the subject," the department announced earlier today. "A confrontation ensued and shots were fired. City of Miami Fire Rescue transported the subject to Jackson Ryder Trauma, where he succumbed to his wounds."

According to county records, Ford pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery in 2009. He served seven years in prison, but a warrant was issued for his arrest in July after he allegedly violated his probation.

MDPD declined to comment via email. But John Rivera, who heads Sergeant Pares' union, the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, said the cop was a backup officer who shot Ford after the victim allegedly refused commands to stop fleeing.

"He saw an individual that met the man's description, gave a short foot chase, was giving the man commands to stop, and the individual refused all his commands," Rivera said via phone. "Then there comes a point in time when the man turns around and starts reaching in his waistband. The officer felt he was reaching for a firearm and was in fear of his life, and he discharged his weapon."

It's important to note that Rivera was caught lying to the public after a North Miami cop shot unarmed Charles Kinsey last year, so the union head's statements need to be taken with a big dose of salt. Rivera said he could not confirm whether Ford had a weapon.

Liberty City residents have complained for decades that city officials and local cops treat them unfairly. In fact, the entire reason the area exists is plainly due to racism: Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration built the famed Libery Square housing project under the guise that it would move the county's black residents out of the crumbling "Negro shacks" in which they were trapped in Overtown. But the push for federal funding was led by a local judge whose main motivation was simply to push black residents out of downtown Miami.

The housing projects were state-of-the-art at the time, but the area has been neglected and treated poorly ever since. Activists say many Liberty City residents are still trapped in cycles of poverty, unable to escape the neighborhood's violence or work their way out of the area. The neighborhood was immortalized in the Oscar-winning film Moonlight.

"We've seen Liberty Square go from being an idyllic place to being Dade County operating a slum," Freeman Wyche, the longtime pastor of the Liberty City Church of Christ, told New Times in 2015. The county is now moving forward with a controversial plan to replace the so-called Pork 'n' Beans projects with a new facility that mixes affordable-housing units with regular apartments.

In the meantime, police and residents still have an uneasy relationship. In 2011, City of Miami Police cops fatally shot seven black men in eight months, including multiple residents of Liberty City. Police have also used the area to test controversial surveillance technologies, including ShotSpotter, a gunshot-detecting microphone system that critics say might not actually make people safer.

The neighborhood's residents say they're weary of what they have long claimed to be racial profiling by police: Both Liberty City and Overtown erupted in riots in 1980 after four Miami-Dade Police officers walked free after beating insurance agent Arthur McDuffie to death that year.

Now Miami-Dade Police must once again answer why another reportedly unarmed man died at the hands of one of their officers.

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