Miami Officer Shoots, Kills Homeless Man in Overtown Park

A man who may have been armed with a metal pipe was shot and killed by a Miami Police officer in a park, according to police.

The incident occurred Thursday afternoon at Gibson Park located at 350 Northwest 13th Street in Overtown. The park is near a YMCA and dozens of children were playing nearby as part of summer camp activities, according to witnesses.

Officers responded to the scene around 10 a.m. after receiving calls about a violent disturbance at the park.

Witnesses say that the man, who they claim is homeless, was holding a metal stick or pipe and would not drop it when commanded to do so by police, so the person was shot.

"There's a pipe on the scene," Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes said, adding that he didn't know if the man had the pipe in his hand. "The pipe is there and like I said, the mechanics of the confrontation we won't know until we interview the witnesses."

Police said the officer involved is Antonio Torres, a 20-year veteran of the department.

The nature of the violent disturbance was not immediately clear.

Antoine Ezell is the maintenance man at the park. He said the homeless man had a routine there every morning.

"To sit down and go to the library and use the computer, read the newspaper, that's his thing every morning and wait for me to open up the door," he said. "Man, for that to happen to a guy like that, no I don't understand that."

Ezell was critical of the officer's actions.

"Now there is just a lot of noise, man. One officer pulled out his Taser and another officer pulled out his gun and that was it. He didn't have to shoot them though, I can tell you that much," he said. "There was no need for it, he didn't really put up a big fight or come at them like that for him to shoot him. It was non-threatening man. To do that in front of all them kids."

Miami Fire Rescue confirm that they transported the man to Ryder Trauma Center. He later died at the hospital. His identity hasn't been released.

One witness said she saw the man raise the pipe toward officers.

"[The officer] stopped the man, the man had the metal stick, pointed it at him, the next thing you know the man shot him," Stephanie Severance said.

"That man is somebody's uncle, somebody's brother, somebody's cousin, somebody's daddy," one witness said. "That man still has a family that is out here somewhere, just because he is homeless don't mean you are supposed to take his life."

The shooting is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami Police union, said Torres is a firearms instructor and a field training officer. He said the officer had no option but to fire his gun.

"The FOP is confident that when the independent investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is completed, it will find that our officer involved acted within the law," Ortiz said in a statement.

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