On July 16, Edward “Butch” Foster III walked to the M&M Meat Market a few blocks away from his Homestead home to pick up some items. The 32-year-old father of six never came home. At 4 p.m., two Homestead police officers, responding to a 911 call about a gun-wielding man, shot Foster 11 times. It's now been more than a month since Foster’s death, and his family says they're frustrated with how slowly information has come out about what happened.
Police say Foster threatened officers and a gun was found on the scene. But the family says that minus video evidence — which doesn't exist since Homestead patrol cars are not equipped with dashboard cams and their officers don't wear body cameras — they doubt that story. The family is planning a protest in Homestead this afternoon and is asking for anyone with cell phone video or information to come forward.
“My brother was gunned down and handcuffed as a dead man. The family wants answers. We’re not going to forget about this and go away,” his sister Crystal Foster tells New Times. “We want to get out the word that every officer should be wearing body cameras.”
This much is clear: Foster was buying dog food at the Dollar Store when a Homestead cop named Anthony Green responded to the 911 call and confronted Foster near 328th Street and 187th Avenue. A police spokesperson later said the officer feared for his life when he fired from his car at Foster, and a 9-mm Sig Sauer was found near his body.
But the family disputes that story. They say multiple witnesses say that Foster had his hands up when he was shot and that none of them saw Foster wielding a gun.
Rachel Tankard, a spokesperson for Miami-Dade County Police, could not comment about the ongoing investigation, but confirmed that a gun was recovered near the body and that there is currently no security footage of the incident.
“We’re devastated. These children lost their mother to a drive-by shooting a few years ago and now they lost their father,” Crystal explains. (In 2012, Foster’s wife, Lakisha Lampley was killed outside a nightclub.) “His son has his first football game the day of the protest.”
The family has hired an attorney to pursue their side of the investigation.
“The police have been extremely slow in releasing any details involved with this shooting. We don’t know if it’s due to natural delays or if they’re trying to cover up reported evidence,” Attorney Judd Rosen says. “Here’s another situation where the fox is guarding the hen house and there’s no way that the victim can receive a fair investigation.”
It wasn’t Foster’s first run-in with the law —- or the first time Officer Green had fatally shot someone while on duty.
In fact, Foster’s death was the third time Officer Anthony Green has fatally shot someone while on active duty. In 2005, Green shot and killed an unarmed man outside a convenience store, claiming he was reaching for his gun. Two years later, in 2007, Green shot another man who was allegedly stabbing a woman and her 11-year-old son. He was cleared in both incidents. The following year, in 2008, Green shot a man suspected of armed robbery twice in the stomach. He survived.
Foster has a criminal record and, at the time of his death, was on probation for armed robbery and attempted murder. In 2009, he was arrested for burglary and marijuana possession. In 2011, he was arrested for armed robbery.
But relatives say Foster was a kind, humble man at heart who loved to cook and listen to music.
“The media focuses on my brother’s past crimes but when he was killed my brother wasn’t committing a crime. He was going to the store,” Crystal says. “Everyone forgets that my brother has never killed anyone, but that officer has.”
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Foster leaves behind six children, ages 1, 3, 5, 8, 12, and 15 years old. Their aunts Crystal and Andrina Foster look after them.
“The victim might have had a criminal record but so do a lot of people,” Rosen points out. “That doesn’t mean he wasn’t loved by his family and friends and that they’re not suffering from his loss.”
The protest will take place Friday afternoon at 989 Lucy St. in Homestead. The family will arrive at 1 p.m. They expect the protest to start at 2 p.m. The family urges anyone with information to come forward.
“I swear on my life I will fight for my brother’s life, and I won’t stop until I die,” Crystal says.