Police

Miami Cop Who Accidentally Shot Publix Shopper Happens to be a Firearms Instructor

Yesterday a woman was standing in the checkout line at a West Kendall Publix when a man near her reached into his pocket, causing his gun to go off. Officials said the woman, who was grazed by the bullet, would be fine after being treated for minor injuries.

It turns out, though, the accidental shooter is a Miami Police officer. And he isn't just any cop: A department spokeswoman confirmed to New Times this afternoon that the officer is Mario Gonzalez, a police firearms instructor.

"Per your request, please be advised that the name of the officer involved in an accidental firearm discharge in the Miami-Dade County jurisdiction yesterday, May 15, 2019, is Mario Gonzalez, an 11-year veteran of the Miami Police Department who's currently assigned to the Training and Personnel Development Section," spokeswoman Kenia Fallat said.

CBS Miami first reported Gonzalez's identity earlier today. According to the news station, Gonzalez's gun went off around 12:15 p.m. yesterday at the Publix at SW 168th Avenue and Kendall Drive. He was off-duty. The bullet fired into the floor, ricocheted off the ground, and hit the innocent woman, who has not yet been identified. Though Miami-Dade Police are investigating the incident, a spokesperson said yesterday it's unlikely Gonzalez will be charged with a crime because the shooting appears to have been an accident.

Other training officers in Florida have committed even worse acts by accident. In 2017, a cop and the chief of police in Punta Gorda were criminally charged after Officer Lee Coel unintentionally shot a librarian dead during a "Shoot/Don't Shoot" training exercise. Coel had unwittingly used live rounds instead of blanks. The chief was fired from his job but was later acquitted in court. Coel's case remains open.

Closer to home, a Miami-Dade Police field-training officer, Alejandro Giraldo, was charged with misdemeanor battery and felony misconduct earlier this month after a video surfaced online showing him brutally arresting an innocent woman, Dyma Loving. She was simply trying to tell the cops that a man had threatened to murder her.
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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.