City of Miami Beach Liable for Shooting Victims' Attorneys' Fees

Appeals court rules against city for disobeying court order

An appeals court on Wednesday let stand a trial judge’s order that the City of Miami Beach pay attorney fees for the victims of a police shooting more than three years ago.

Judge Victoria Sigler ordered the sanctions against the city in June 2013 because she found Miami Beach disobeyed her order to turn over all public records to the plaintiffs’ attorneys two months earlier. A three-judge appellate panel today affirmed that order without comment.

The family of the man killed by police and two bystanders wounded by the gunfire had sued Miami Beach for the public records as they prepared to sue the city for wrongful death or other damages.

Judge Sigler has not yet determined how much of the legal fees and costs the city must pay, but the attorney for the estate of the man killed said the taxpayers’ bill has increased, as the city must now pay both its and the plaintiffs’ appellate costs and fees.

Marwan Porter, attorney for the state of Raymond Herisse, said he is “very happy for the family. This is another step in the direction of justice.”

Miami Beach and Hialeah police officers fired more than 100 rounds at Herisse as he sat in a car that police say previously almost struck a bicycle officer. Video shows the car remained stopped for more than a minute before officers inexplicably opened fire, killing Herisse and wounding four bystanders. More than three years after the Memorial Day 2011 shooting, the state attorney is still investigating whether any officers should face a criminal charge.

Porter said the appellate court decision clears the way for the trial judge to determine how much money the city should pay for his and other attorneys’ fees and costs.

“They’ve disregarded Raymond Herisse’s civil rights, his family’s rights, the court’s order and then when admonished by the court and sanctioned, they appealed that ruling and hired one of the best law firms in the county to fight this poor little family and they lost again,” Porter said. “They can run, but they can’t hide and we will continue to fight, match them dollar for dollar until justice prevails.”

A call to the deputy city attorney for Miami Beach today seeking comment has not been returned.

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