Here Are the 12 People Miami-Area Police Killed in 2017

Cariann Denise Hithon as seen in a recent YouTube video she filmed for class.
Cariann Denise Hithon as seen in a recent YouTube video she filmed for class. YouTube
Most killings by police likely don't need to happen. They are extremely rare in European countries — only five people were shot dead by law enforcement in the entire United Kingdom in 2017. According to figures recently released by, a national anti-police-brutality activist group, 1,129 people were killed by police officers in the United States in 2017.

Most of the people were shot to death, and the victims were disproportionately black. But other victims were killed by Tasers, physical restraints, cars, and other implements. And many were killed for holding knives (for which cops in other countries generally don't kill people) or carrying no weapons at all.
According to the figures, law enforcement officers killed 12 people in Miami-Dade County in 2017. Some of the deaths, such as the on-camera shooting of 22-year-old Carianne Denise Hithon in Miami Beach in October, generated huge headlines. Others, such as the shooting of unarmed 27-year-old Anthony Ford, received little public attention. Three of the victims' identities were never released — of the nine named victims, four were black. Only one in five Miami-Dade residents is black.

Here's a tally of the year in violence:

May 28: Miami-Dade PD kills unnamed male during Memorial Day parking dispute. Police have still not revealed the name of the man they shot during a dispute that sparked a gigantic political battle in Miami Beach this year. According to the Miami Herald, an altercation between drivers began around 10:35 p.m. the Sunday before Memorial Day, after 30-year-old Ladarian Phillips watched a white BMW hit his friend's car multiple times while the Beemer's driver was trying to park. One person in the BMW, 19-year-old Jeffrey Alexander, allegedly shot and killed Phillips. But Miami-Dade Police later fatally shot a second person that night.

June 5: Miami-Dade PD kills John Spaulding, 47. Spaulding had been arrested 22 times, including once for stabbing a woman to death, before police killed him this year. He was wanted on murder charges for allegedly killing his girlfriend, 55-year-old Artemisa Woods. Police said Spaulding was cornered near the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center and shot down. They did not say why they fired on Spaulding, but a gun was later recovered from the scene.

June 10: Miami-Dade PD kills Theodore Brendecke, 82. Brendecke seems to have committed "suicide by cop." He drunkenly barricaded himself in his home while holding a gun and told his wife he wanted a shootout with authorities. Rather than finding a way to deescalate the situation, the cops shot Brendecke dead.

June 17: City of Miami PD kills Ramon Bueno, 71, in traffic accident. Bueno was killed when an MPD cruiser crashed into his car. The Miami Fraternal Order of Police later gave $1,000 to a GoFundMe page raising money for his funeral; then-FOP President Javier Ortiz claimed the donation was not an admission of guilt by the department.

July 1: Man apparently high on narcotics dies during "struggle" with City of Miami PD. Officers said a man was acting "erratically" in East Little Havana and running into traffic when he was apprehended by police. After allegedly kicking the authorities and trying to get away, he died during some sort of "struggle" with law-enforcement, according to WPLG.

August 13: City of Miami PD kills Relvy Rodriguez-Palenzuela, 32. Rookie MPD Officer Rafael Horta fatally shot Rodriguez-Palenzuela after the cop says he watched the man raise a knife and attempt to stab a 27-year-old woman, who was later seen with massive cuts on her body.

August 28: Miami-Dade PD kills Anthony Ford, 27. After officers pulled over a red Nissan in Liberty City, two men exited the vehicle and fled on foot. After a confrontation that police never explained, an MDPD officer claimed he feared for his life and was forced to shoot Ford. The Miami Herald later learned Ford was unarmed. Police never explained why he was pulled over.

September 5: Miami-Dade PD kills unnamed male teenager. Officers claimed they were forced to shoot an unidentified male who "lunged" at a cop working burglary duty in a Kendale Lakes apartment complex. Neither the suspect nor the officer's names have been released to the public, but the man was described as "white" and "in his teens."

October 1: Hialeah PD kills Lester Machado, 24. Machado's family is still demanding answers to why cops claimed they were forced to fire a hail of bullets into his car. No weapon was found in his car, and although police told media they were forced to shoot to stop him from ramming cops, departments across the nation are discouraged from firing into moving vehicles. Machado's parents wants justice for their son.

October 6: Miami-Dade PD kills Ernesto Padron, 52. Cops tried to serve Padron a warrant for a bank robbery, but he grabbed a handgun, fled, stole two vehicles, and eventually jumped into the Miami River. Police told the Herald they were forced to shoot him after he refused to drop his weapon.

October 8: Miami Beach Police officers kill Carianne Denise Hithon, 22. Hithon's shooting is arguably the most-discussed police killing of 2017. She was likely intoxicated when she was filmed driving erratically in Miami Beach. She was also caught on tape accelerating her car into a Miami Beach Police officer, who rolled off the hood of the vehicle and briefly fell unconscious. (He was ultimately fine.) A second officer was filmed shooting into Hithon's car and killing her. It's unclear if the shooting complied with departmental rules.

December 6: Miami-Dade PD kills David Facen, 54, in "firefight." Per the Herald, Facen was killed during an alleged shootout with a county cop outside a Hialeah Walmart. Facen was a suspected shoplifter; the officer was off-duty but still wearing his uniform. Police did not report who shot first. The officer suffered multiple gunshot wounds but was able to "limp" into Jackson Memorial Hospital on his own. Facen died.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.