Innocent Bystander Struck During Miami-Dade Police Shootout in Liberty City

A woman was injured during a police shooting last night in Liberty City.
A woman was injured during a police shooting last night in Liberty City. Photo by 305mia / Wikimedia Commons
Roughly 18 months after officers with the Miami-Dade Police Department were cleared of criminal wrongdoing after fatally shooting an unarmed black man, 27-year-old Anthony Ford, in Liberty City, MDPD officers last night again fired their guns in the neighborhood.

The department announced at 10:48 last night via Twitter that its officers were responding to the scene of a "police-involved shooting" on the corner of NW 66th Street and NW 22nd Avenue, about a mile from the public-housing complex Liberty Square.

Police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta told the media that around 9 p.m., officers with MDPD's Robbery Intervention Detail stopped a man on a scooter for an unspecified reason while he was driving through the area. Police say the man whipped out a gun and opened fire on them — and when an officer returned fire, a female bystander was shot in the shoulder. It's unclear whether an officer's bullets struck the woman. A Miami-Dade County Police spokesperson said the department could not say whether its own cop had shot the woman or not.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is reportedly investigating the incident.
Local reporters said they saw several spent shell casings at the roped-off scene and noticed cops had secured a second crime scene, at NW 54th Street and NW 27th Avenue. WTVJ reports that police found the woman suffering from a gunshot wound in a red car on NW 54th Street. The man on the scooter, who has not been named, has been taken into custody. Police reportedly recovered a gun from the scene.

Though shootings involving Miami-area cops have dropped significantly over the past handful of years, they still happen semiregularly countywide.

In the 2017 shooting that left Ford dead, two undercover MDPD officers attempted to pull him over in Liberty City. Cops said Ford had been driving a red Nissan Maxima while his brother sat in the front passenger seat. Officers claimed they smelled marijuana and began to search the car when Ford fled. They chased Ford, cornered him, claimed he was reaching into his waistband, and then shot him dead. The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office in 2018 confirmed Ford had no weapon but cleared the officers of wrongdoing anyway.

In a 2018 case, MDPD's robbery squad said it had attempted to stop a man driving a stolen car in Opa-locka, but the car took off. When cops found the car, they opened fire on men standing nearby and wound up shooting 29-year-old Antonio Laines, who was holding nothing but a screwdriver. Laines survived, and a portion of the incident was caught on tape.

Nevertheless, that same year, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez vetoed the creation of an independent police-oversight panel after MDPD Director Juan Perez said increased scrutiny of his department was "not needed."
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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.

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