The retired Broward Sheriff's Office deputy who shot a homeless man at a Miami Lakes Haagen-Dazs shop on Saturday is unlikely to face charges, according to Miami-Dade police.
"Any investigation can take a spin at any time," acknowledged MDPD spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta. But he said that according to investigators, eyewitness reports to the incident between 32-year-old former BSO officer Maury Hernandez and 33-year-old homeless man Alain Romero "are consistent with what is believed to have occurred": that Hernandez shot Romero twice when, in the midst of a physical confrontation, Romero turned his aggression toward the deputy's child and future stepchildren.
Though neither Hernandez nor the hospitalized Romero have given official statements yet, police have given a version of how the incident likely unfolded during Hernandez' trip for ice cream with his mother, fiancee, her two small children, and the couple's weeks-old infant.
"Romero was already being aggressive and harassing customers," Zabaleta said. "The Cuban restaurant on the corner had already called police because he was bothering patrons at the coffee window and being aggressive in nature as far as his body language and customers were feeling somewhat afraid. While units were en route is when we got the call for shots fired."
Just prior to the shooting, Zabaleta said, "Romero walks over to the ice cream shop, sees Hernandez and his family and starts to become aggressive. He swings at him a couple times, and as [Hernandez] is trying to dodge him, that's when Romero turns toward the kids and turns his aggression toward the kids and it becomes a physical altercation."
What is not in dispute is that Hernandez then pulled a permitted, concealed weapon and shot at Romero several times, striking him twice. The wounded man was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center, and Hernandez' attorney advised him against giving a statement on the scene.
However, Hernandez, who previously made headlines after miraculously surviving a shot to the head in the line of duty, did speak to El Nuevo Herald. He told the paper the assault was not against the children but himself and his mother, who suffered a shoulder injury.
"I told him no, and he got very upset. Then he reacted violently with threats and assaulted my mother," Hernandez told El Nuevo. "I told him repeatedly to get away, to stop harassing us, and when he assaulted me physically I thought the situation was getting really serious. I feared for my life and that of my family...I pushed him and tried to control him physically, but he continued. In the end I had to shoot him."
A Casavana Cuban Restaurant employee who said he placed the initial call to police described Romero's behavior prior to the ice cream shop altercation in less strident terms.
"I wouldn't say he was aggressive," opined Eddie Laurent, who despite the police calling Romero a "well-known" person in the neighborhood told HuffPost Miami the incident was the first time in nearly six years at Casavana that he had noticed Romero. "I did see him talking to himself...Some of the customers outside probably felt threatened by him."
Though police declined at this point to address in detail any alleged threats against the children -- one witness suggested Saturday that Romero was trying to "take" the baby -- they were so far confident in the investigation.
"At this point there's no charges," Zabaleta said. "Based on other information, everything seemed to be consistent."
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