On December 10 of last year, Miami police cornered a blue Volvo driven by a suspect in a robbery and the shooting of a fellow cop. After a brief chase, the driver crashed the car in a residential neighborhood where it was quickly surrounded by at least 23 cops.
And then the police opened fire.
When the second of two gunfire barrages was over, according to a five-month investigation by CBS 4 Miami News, the police unloaded 377 rounds at the car, firing wildly, even hitting each other and narrowly missing a 12-year-old boy in a nearby townhouse who dove to the floor for cover as bullets tore through his home — and a four-month-old baby slept in a crib.
A trained SWAT team attempted to take control of the scene, but couldn’t move into place because the road was jammed with police cruisers.
The crazed cops also wildly shot up other parked cars and fence posts, and sent a hail of bullets flying into nearby businesses that were just opening at the early morning hour, a time when local children were up and getting ready for school while commuters waited on a train platform near the scene.
At first, the cops fired 50 shots into the car. Then they held fire for about two whole minutes. But when they saw the suspect, Adrian Montesano, 27 — and his apparently uninvolved companion, 50-year-old Corsini Valdes — still moving inside the Volvo, they opened fire again, riddling the car with bullets as they ignored desperate pleas from supervisors and dispatchers on their police radios.
“We have the vehicle confined,” one supervisor said over a radio, according to the CBS Miami report. “The officers need to pay attention to the radios, they are not listening, okay, that’s the inner perimeter – we’re good.”
A dispatcher then vainly attempted to get the officers’ attention. “Units pay attention. Please listen to your radios.”
The barrage of gunfire was literally earsplitting. Two cops were treated for ruptured eardrums afterward.
“They were saying put your hands up, and the guys were still moving after they shot maybe 50, 60 times,” said eyewitness Anthony Vandiver, whose house was shot in the police firing frenzy. “And the guy tried to put his hands up. And as soon as he put his hands up, it erupted again. And that was it for them. That guy tried his best to give up.”
It turned out that both Montesano and Valdes were unarmed as dozens of bullets ripped through their bodies.
There is no question that Montesano, who had no significant prior record, committed serious crimes. At about 4:30 that morning, he tried to rob a Walgreen’s drugstore at gunpoint, briefly holding a woman hostage with a gun to her head.
About half an hour later, he shot and wounded a police officer and stole the officer’s service weapon. At some point after that — no one is yet sure when — he took his grandmother’s Volvo and picked up Valdes, a career criminal, but who apparently was not involved in the robbery.
More than five months later, Miami Dade Police and the Florida State’s Attorney are still trying to figure out how a serious, but not unusual, police chase turned a quiet, residential area into a war zone. The investigation, they say, could take years to complete.
Image: Screen Capture — CBS 4 Miami