Antwon Cooper, 34, was shot in the head by police minutes after being pulled over for a traffic stop, according to a newly released bodycam video. The family of the Miami man claims that a newly released video proves he was not armed.
On March 8, Miami police released bodycam and neighboring surveillance video from the fatal shooting of a Black man. Cooper was stopped by a police officer in Miami.
Rawsi Williams, an attorney representing Cooper’s family, stated, “They still haven’t been able to tell us what the stop was truly for, they just say it was something with a paper tag.”
Although the inquiry is still underway, the fresh video shows an officer approaching Cooper and asking for his driver’s license and registration. According to Williams, Cooper was driving a friend’s automobile, despite Cooper claiming ownership in the bodycam video. When Cooper failed to produce a driver’s license, the police instructed him to exit the red Nissan Altima, but Cooper attempted to flee as the officer patted him down. Cooper and the cop tussle on tape before the officer’s body camera fall to the ground. A Miami police sergeant came on the scene seconds later and opened fire, instantly killing Cooper.
Williams claims that bodycam video refutes the claim that Cooper was armed, which the family has consistently rejected. “The Miami Police Department’s release of the footage was truly a vindication of us and a validation of the facts we’d previously put out there,” Williams said.
While a gun was found at the scene, it is unknown who it belonged to or how it got there. “One of the two subjects was armed with a firearm…a handgun has subsequently been seized on scene,” Miami police announced on the day of the incident, but they did not respond to Atlanta Black Star’s request for more details. A passenger in the automobile at the time of the traffic check was mentioned by police, but she was not arrested.
Cooper’s family is distraught as the investigation into his death continues. Cooper’s granddad, Melvin Bryant, stated, “It’s ripping me and my wife apart.”
“It hurts, a death is a death,” Helen Bryant, Cooper’s grandmother, said. “But this sort of death, you can’t accept it, I can’t accept it, not at all.”
In the midst of their grief, the Bryants say they’ve had to rebut another narrative about their grandson’s criminal past, claiming that he’d turned his life around and had a regular job, and that his criminal record had no influence on what finally killed him.
Helen Bryant stated of her grandson’s character, “They just tried to tarnish him like he was such a nasty guy, and he wasn’t.”
Cooper’s criminal history, according to attorney Frank Allen, would be irrelevant in their struggle for justice because the acts were done more than a decade ago.
“Some of the material they’re trying to piggyback off of in litigation isn’t even going to be admissible,” Allen, one of the Cooper family’s attorneys, said. “A judge isn’t going to allow it, a judge isn’t going to consider it, and a jury isn’t even going to hear it.”
Despite the fact that the family’s attorneys have filed a pre-suit for a wrongful death federal civil rights lawsuit alleging Cooper was a victim of the excessive police force, the family says they aren’t concerned about litigation at this time and would rather focus their efforts on getting justice against the Miami police sergeant who fired the fatal shot.
The family has begun an online campaign to have the sergeant arrested.
“Our grandson was shot in the head in the street by an officer, and he lay beneath a cover for seven hours,” Melvin Bryant said. “We’re not thinking about a lawsuit; we want justice for our grandson.”
“Can they return Antwon to us?” “They can’t give him back to us, all the litigation in the world won’t be able to give him back to us,” Helen Bryant lamented after Cooper’s death.
“He’ll never be able to marry, there won’t be an Antwon junior, he won’t be able to have children,” Williams said of the shooting’s long-term effects.
The case is still being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.