A former South Florida police chief is disagreeing with the way officers took down an armed bank robbery suspect in Miami Beach last weekend during a fatal police-involved shooting.
David Ward, a former Miccosukee police chief and Miami-Dade police homicide detective, specialized in investigating police-involved shootings like the one that killed 51-year-old David W. Winesett on Alton Road Saturday, Dec. 5.
"I don’t believe that they needed to shoot him; that’s my opinion," Ward told NBC 6.
Ward said the first mistake he noticed during the encounter, which was captured on video, is the officers' proximity to Winesett. He argued that more distance would have protected police from the razor blade Winesett was carrying.
"The officers are taking up strategic positions. I don’t agree with the female officer being in this position because she’s entirely too close," Ward said.
Police previously said Winesett, a convicted serial bank robber who escaped from a halfway house, passed a note to a Bank of America teller Saturday asking for cash and claiming he had a bomb. He also armed himself with the straight-edged razor and hid in a local barber shop, refusing to come out.
When asked if, under those circumstances, Ward could sympathize with the officers responding, he said that’s what they train for.
"It’s a little bit more complicated because you’re going to detonate and a lot of people are going to be injured. You certainly don’t want to be — again, I keep going over it — you don't want to be this close, if he has a bomb," Ward said.
Winesett was fatally shot as a Taser was deployed. Ward argued this was another mistake.
"What I don’t believe he did was call out what we're supposed to do, (which) is 'Taser, Taser, Taser,'" Ward said, of the officer who fired the Taser. "And that may have prevented that one officer from having that finger in that trigger."
Ward said he knows it was a tense situation but said shooting should always be the last resort.
"The analogy is protect and serve, not shoot to kill, and that’s what we should be doing," he said.
Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates said Winesett raised the blade toward officers right before he was shot. Miami-Dade police have taken over the investigation.