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Eyewitness to Miami Beach shooting alleges police misconduct

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, CNN
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Police shooting caught on tape
  • An eyewitness to the fatal police shooting says police also pointed a gun at him
  • "My phone was smashed - he stepped on it, handcuffed me," the witness says
  • A Miami Beach Police spokesman says he can not comment on the incident
  • In the video it looks like as many as a dozen officers fired

(CNN) -- An eyewitness to a fatal police shooting in Miami Beach last week claims police officers attempted to confiscate the video he filmed of the incident, and even crushed his phone underfoot in an attempt to destroy the recording.

Narces Benoit says he just happened to be in the area driving with his girlfriend when police fatally shot an erratic driver early Memorial Day morning.

He said after the disturbance started he pulled over his truck and started recording with his cell phone camera, capturing the shooting.

"When he noticed me recording, one of the officers jumped in the truck, put a pistol to my head," he said. "My phone was smashed - he stepped on it, handcuffed me."

Juan Sanchez, a detective with the Miami Beach Police Department, said he could not comment on how officers that night handled eyewitnesses who may have filmed the incident, because the matter could become the subject of an internal investigation or a civil lawsuit.

But Sanchez added that after the shooting, the site was an active crime scene and the police were looking for additional suspects.

Benoit's girlfriend, Ericka Davis, was also in the truck at the time.

"They handled us like we were criminals," she said. "The officer came over to the driver's side, on my left, and just put the gun to my head."

"They took everyone's phones and smashed them," she said.

Benoit says the only reason he still has the footage is because it was saved on a tiny memory card, which he removed and hid from the officers, despite being told to hand over his video.

"I took the chip out and put it in my mouth," he said, and kept it there the whole time he was interviewed by police at a nearby mobile command post.

His video shows an officer on a bike approaching his truck and pointing a gun directly into the camera, giving an indecipherable command, and then backing away.

Another officer orders them to stop filming and get out of the truck, and then the video ends.

Benoit charged CNN a fee to license his video and air it in a news report. He has since given police a copy, he said, but is considering suing them over his treatment.

Miami Beach police say they are still investigating the fatal shooting of the driver that Benoit captured on tape.

Police say at around 4 a.m. on Memorial Day, officers stopped Raymond Herisse in his car, but after an altercation, he sped off.

Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega said that Herisse drove recklessly, striking other cars, "driving on sidewalks, and you name it."

"One of the officers was struck," he told reporters. Luckily the officer was not seriously injured, he said, but the suspect posed a threat to the officers and the public, "as a situation involving deadly force."

A video posted on YouTube, which CNN cannot independently confirm, shows a commotion on a wide boulevard, as an erratically driven car comes to a stop at an intersection. Bystanders scatter as officers surround the car, with guns drawn. Then gunfire breaks out. In Benoit's video, it looks like there are muzzle flashes from the pistols of as many as a dozen officers.

Herisse was killed, and four bystanders were injured by gunfire, according to Noriega.

Benoit and Davis criticized the police for the number of shots they fired, in the presence of numerous bystanders.

"We could have been killed," said Davis. "They were shooting so long, you could hear their guns clicking on empty, but they kept pulling the trigger," she said. "I think that's excessive."

Noriega said it was unclear whether the suspect shot at the officers, but police later recovered a gun from his car.