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Close-up of an unmarked police car with plain-clothes officers nearby, showing tense and confused expressions, with neighbors watching from a distance on a suburban street.
The tragic police shooting of Daniel Lewis raises serious questions about police conduct and racial bias The family seeks justice

Uncover the truth behind a tragic police shooting in Miami Gardens that left a family shattered.

By Darius Spearman (africanelements)

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Key Takeaways

  • Police shot and killed Daniel Lewis, a 27-year-old Black man, on his own porch.
  • His cousins sought refuge, thinking they were followed by gang members, but it was an unmarked police car.
  • Lewis carried a firearm with a legal permit and had no criminal record.
  • The police claim Lewis fired first, but his family contends no bullets from his gun were found.
  • The family is considering legal action against the Miami Gardens Police Department and ATF.
  • The tragic incident raises serious questions about police conduct and racial bias.

Tragic Incident Overview

On May 31, 2024, a tragic event unfolded in Miami Gardens, Florida. Daniel Lewis, a 27-year-old Black man, lost his life on his own property. The circumstances leading to his death raise many questions, especially about police conduct. Lewis had a permit to carry a firearm and a clean criminal record. His cousins, fearing what gang members were following them, ran to his house for refuge. However, the vehicle tailing them was an unmarked police car.

The Night Daniel Lewis Was Shot

Lewis’s cousins thought they were in immediate danger. Once they arrived at Lewis’s home, they rushed inside for safety. To investigate the commotion, Lewis stepped onto his porch with his firearm. At that moment, police officers, part of a task force with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), approached.

“Not once did anyone yell ‘police.’ They were in plain clothes, and they did not have body cameras on during the incident.” (NBC Miami)

According to the police, Lewis fired his gun first. They claim this prompted them to return fire, resulting in the police having shot Lewis five times. However, Lewis’s family disputes this. They say hey no bullets from his gun were found at the scene. This discrepancy has intensified their quest for answers.

Discrepancies and Family’s Response

Stacked bar graph showing rates of police shooting victims among armed and unarmed individuals by race from 2015-2020, highlighting disproportionate impacts on Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities. Source: Yale News, https://news.yale.edu/2020/10/27/racial-disparity-police-shootings-unchanged-over-5-years
Racial Disparity in Police Shooting Victims by Armed Status

Identifying Issues

The family argues that the officers did not identify themselves as police. They claim no warnings, like “police, stop,” were given before the shooting. This has led to significant public outcry for accountability.

The Search for Evidence

Attorneys for the Lewis family state none of the shell casings found at the scene came from Lewis’s gun. This contradicts the police’s claim that he fired at them first.

Angela Lewis, Daniel’s mother, witnessed her son’s tragic death. She has expressed profound grief and confusion. The family is considering legal action against both the Miami Gardens Police Department and the ATF. They need clarity and justice for this tragic and unnecessary loss.

Castle Doctrine

The family’s attorneys argue that Lewis had every right to defend his home. Given the lack of police identification and the perceived threat, his actions were within the legal bounds of the Castle Doctrine. This law allows people to use force to protect their home against intruders.

Pending Investigation

Both the Miami Gardens Police Department and the ATF have not provided detailed information about the incident. This absence of information includes the identity of the person the officers were searching for or confirmation of whether Lewis fired his gun.

The shooting of Daniel Lewis has not only affected his family but also sparked significant controversy within the community. Various groups and advocates for police reform have voiced their concerns.

“The family is devastated by the loss and is seeking answers and justice for what they believe was an unnecessary and avoidable tragedy.” (CBS News)

Calls for Justice

Community members have rallied behind the Lewis family, demanding transparency and accountability. The conflicting accounts of the incident and the lack of clear communication from law enforcement have only fueled these calls.

Line graph showing the cumulative poor mental health days for Black Americans due to police killings from 2016 to 2020, demonstrating an increasing trend over the years. Source: Yale News, https://news.yale.edu/2020/10/27/racial-disparity-police-shootings-unchanged-over-5-years
Impact of Police Killings on Black Americans Mental Health Over Time

Impact on Police Practices and Policies

This case could also potentially influence future police practices and policies. It highlights the pressing need for clear identification by law enforcement, the use of body cameras, and the importance of proper communication during such operations.

The ATF’s Role in the Incident

The ATF’s involvement in this tragic event is also crucial to understanding the broader context.

Joint Task Force to Combat Gun Violence

Miami Gardens had experienced a series of violent incidents, prompting local authorities to involve federal agencies like the ATF. This joint task force aimed to address and reduce gun violence in the area.

Night of the Incident

On the night of May 31, 2024, Miami Gardens Police officers and ATF agents were on patrol, responding to reports of gunfire. They encountered individuals who allegedly fired at them, sparking the tragic chain of events that led to Daniel Lewis’s death.

The Need for Specialized Expertise

The ATF specializes in investigating federal offenses related to firearms and explosives. Their role was to help trace firearms used in crimes and apply federal laws that carry harsher penalties than state laws.

Conclusion

The tragic shooting of Daniel Lewis has raised serious questions about police conduct and the need for a transparent and thorough investigation. The discrepancies in the accounts provided by the police and the Lewis family have fueled public outcry. The demand for justice and accountability from his family and community continues to grow, highlighting the critical importance of fair and unbiased law enforcement.

FAQ

Q: Who was Daniel Lewis? A: Daniel Lewis was a 27-year-old Black man with a permit to carry a firearm and no criminal record. Police him on his property in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Q: What led to the shooting of Daniel Lewis? A: Lewis’s cousins, fearing they were being followed by gang members, rushed into his home. Lewis stepped out with a firearm to investigate the commotion, and police officers, who claim he fired first, shot him five times.

Q: Did Daniel Lewis fire his gun? A: According to the police, Lewis fired his gun first. However, his family disputes this, stating no bullets from his gun were found at the scene.

Q: What legal action is the family considering? A: The family is considering suing the Miami Gardens Police Department and the ATF. They seek answers and justice for the tragic loss of Daniel Lewis.

Q: Why was the ATF involved in this incident? A: The ATF was part of a joint task force with local law enforcement to address and reduce gun violence in Miami Gardens, following a series of violent incidents in the area.

About the author:

Darius Spearman is a professor of Black Studies at San Diego City College, where he has been pursuing his love of teaching since 2007. He is the author of several books, including Between The Color Lines: A History of African Americans on the California Frontier Through 1890. You can visit Darius online at africanelements.org.