One Officer Involved in 2 Shooting Deaths in 4 Days

Surveillance video of first incident raises questions

By Carlos Miller
|  Sunday, Aug 2, 2009  |  Updated 6:54 PM PDT
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Surveillance Video of Miami Beach Police officer-involved shooting

A Miami Beach police officer has been involved in two shootings in four days

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Surveillance Video of Miami Beach Police officer-involved shooting

A surveillance video from outside Twist nightclub on Washington Avenue captured the moment when Husien Shehada was shot and killed by a Miami Beach police officer.
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Several witnesses who watched a Miami Beach police officer kill an unarmed man last week say the shooting was completely unjustified, according to the victim’s attorney.

Furthermore, the witness that has been quoted in local newspapers corroborating police statements is not only vying for a job with the Miami Beach Police Department, his uncle works in that same department, making him a less than credible witness, according to the attorney.

Nevertheless, the officer who shot and killed Husien Shehada was allowed to return to work in four days, when he immediately became involved in a second officer-involved killing.

Despite him being cleared of any wrongdoing in the first incident, police still refuse to release the incident report because it is “still under investigation.”

It is unclear how long Officer Adam Tavss will remain on paid administrative leave this time around.

Attorney John Contini obtained a surveillance video (to the left of the article) of the incident, which shows Shehada and his brother, Samer Shehada, walking down Washington Avenue with their arms at their side, appearing to be carrying nothing.

The two men stop and turn around, apparently being beckoned by the officers who are standing outside the frame.

Five seconds later, Shehada is shot, his body catapulting out of the frame.

The shooting occurred at 4 a.m. on June 14 outside of Club Twist and the 11th Street Diner.

According to Contini, several witnesses heard the officers curse at the brothers to get their attention. Then, after the shooting, these same witnesses were intimidated and chased off by police officers, he said.

“Patrons of the diner, civilians in the streets, anybody who said anything adverse to the police actions were run off, intimidated and threatened by police,” Contini said.

“Many are afraid to come forward because they see what Miami Beach Police can do.”

However, Contini said he has persuaded at least four sets of witnesses, including locals and some tourists, to provide sworn statements of what they witnessed.

One witness whose statements seem to justify the police shooting came from a doorman at Twist, who said that Shehada appeared to be reaching for something he had concealed.

But Contini said that doorman has applied to be an officer at the Miami Beach Police Department where his uncle is an officer.

"He has also worked with the sheriff's office in Broward County," he said.

Shehada and his brother, along with their girlfriends, were visiting Miami Beach from Virginia. After several days of soaking up the sun and hitting the clubs, they were set to return home on Monday. Shehada never made it.

“If you are a tourist, you are not safe,” Contini said. “We used to think that more police officers on the streets meant that you are safe, but it is quite the opposite.”

Police said they were responding to a call of a “man with a firearm” when they encountered the two men. They say words were exchanged and some type of confrontation ensued. They say Shehada appeared to be reaching for a gun – which they say later turned out to be a bottle.

However, the video doesn’t show any confrontation nor does it show Shehada carrying or reaching for anything.

But police told The Miami Herald that the video clearly shows the men were “looking menacing” as they walked down the street.

Police were hesitant to release details of the incident in the days following the shooting, including the name of the officer involved, whom they say was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a “thorough investigation.”

But four days later, Tavss was back on duty when only a few hours later, he was involved in a second officer-involved shooting, this one involving a carjacking suspect who was killed on the MacArthur Causeway.

Tavss had been cleared to return to duty earlier that day, according to police, apparently cleared of any wrongdoing.

However, on Saturday, police said they were still unable to release the incident report of the first shooting because it was “still under investigation.”

“It’s a fabrication on part of the Miami Beach Police Department, a desperate attempt to protect one of their own," Contini said.


 

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