A family is left devastated after a routine traffic stop turned deadly for Antwon Cooper, 35, of Miami who was shot by a Miami police officer at point-blank range on March 8. Police claimed Cooper had a gun, but the family says surveillance video from a nearby school tells a different story.
Just days before his 35th birthday, Antwon Cooper of Miami was pulled over by a city of Miami police officer.
Attorneys for Cooper’s family, Rawsi Williams and Frank Allen, say Cooper was driving a red Nissan Altima that belonged to a friend, but when police ran the license plate that prompted a traffic stop. Cooper presented an ID but not a driver’s license, which led to the officer asking Cooper to step out of the car.
“Once Mr. Cooper exits the vehicle, the officer starts a pat-down on one side of Mr. Cooper. He reaches out to pat down the left side, and Mr. Cooper turns to run away, but the officer grabs Mr. Cooper by the shirt. He doesn’t even make it anywhere,” Williams said.
As Cooper was trying to run away, a struggle ensued between hIm and the officer until another sergeant arrived at the scene.
“[The sergeant] walks up to the scene, says ‘get down, get down,’ and just shoots Mr. Cooper in the head,” Williams said of the moments when the sergeant arrived.
“[The sergeant yelled] ‘Get down, get down,’ bam, at a pretty close proximity. The kid didn’t have a chance to respond,” attorney Frank Allen added of Cooper’s final moments.
Williams says police framed the incident as if Cooper had a gun and threatened the officers. She says she does not know who the gun belonged to but reiterates that Cooper never brandished a gun throughout the encounter.
“They put out a narrative as if the officer was forced to fire because of some kind of lethal threat by bringing in the word gun,” Williams said.
“Mr. Cooper was not swinging at this officer, he was not punching this officer, he wasn’t kicking this officer, he wasn’t brandishing any weapons at this officer, he wasn’t pointing a weapon at this officer,” Allen said of the deadly police encounter.
Williams says surveillance video from a nearby school will help prove police should not have shot Cooper. “The sergeant wasn’t wearing a bodycam, but thankfully this occurred right outside a school and they also had video surveillance on the outside their school that points directly at the scene where this occurred so we’ve seen that footage as well,” Williams said.
Williams says the video surveillance has not been made public yet, but a photo shows the end result, Cooper left lying in the street.
Atlanta Black Star sought more details from Miami police on the incident, but a spokeswoman says because the case is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and internal affairs, they cannot release any information.
Cooper’s family just held his funeral over the weekend. The family intends to file a wrongful death federal civil rights lawsuit under section 1983 claiming Cooper was a victim of excessive police force.
“They want the officer terminated, they want the officer arrested and convicted for the killing of Mr. Antwon Cooper,” Williams said the family hopes to get out of the pending lawsuit.
Cooper has a criminal record dating back to 2006 which include armed burglary, home invasion, and gun charges resulting in him serving prison time. Williams says he had a job and was working on turning his life around before his run-in with police on March 8.