MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Evidence markers scattered the street next to the body of a man shot and killed by Opa-locka Police after reportedly attacking officers with what family said was a broom stick.
The family of that man has hired an attorney and said the shooting was not justified. But Miami-Dade P.B.A. President John Rivera said officers have to take the action needed to protect themselves, adding "you can kill someone with a broomstick."
"We trying to find out why is there so many bullets down there for a broom stick? That's messed up," said the victim's aunt, Audrey Brown. "That's my nephew. That's my sister's baby boy. She hurting right now. All she want to know is what happened to her son."
Family identified that man as 25-year old Cornelius Brown. They said he suffered from mental health issues but never hurt or bothered anybody. They said the stick he often carried with him is a toy not a weapon.
"My nephew have a broom stick because he's schizophrenic. He walks around with his little broom stick playing nunchucks," said Audrey Brown.
Rivera told CBS4's Peter D'Oench, "To say it is only a broomstick. You can harm someone or kill someone with a broomstick. We know that the officers had to take action that they don't like to act when they are in fear for their lives.
"Anytime there is a threat to the officer, there is a threat to the community. And that officer has every expectation, justification and obligation that they will have to use deadly force."
Police said around 3:30 a.m. a patrol officer spotted a man acting erratically at a convenience store at NW 135th Street and 30th Avenue. When he pulled into the parking lot to see what was going on, the man turned around and began to walk away. The officer followed in his patrol car.
When Brown reached NW 32nd Avenue, he turned around, jumped on the hood of the officer's patrol car and began punching the windshield.
The officer immediately called for back up and a second officer arrived. When they tried to take Brown into custody he resisted.
"They were forced to deploy their electronic control devices in attempts to subdue him," according to Miami-Dade police Detective Marjorie Eloi. "The Tasers did not subdue the young man. He then turned his aggression towards the officers at which time the officers shot and struck the young man."
Witnesses reportedly saw Brown waving something at the officers before he was shot and killed.
"It could have been a stick, it could have been a crowbar," said Eloi.
One of the officers involved was taken to the hospital for a medical reason. Police said one of the officers who fired on Brown has been with department for a year, the other has been with the department for six years.
Police haven't confirmed what Brown was armed with. But say they did find pieces of what appears to be some kind of stick at the scene.
"Not a sword, a broom stick," said Audrey Brown. "All he had was a broom stick. How many times you get shot for a broom stick."
Brown's family has hired Miami attorney Stuart Share. He told D'Oench, "This is a terrible tragedy and we will be conducting our own investigation."
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