New bodycam video shows the final moments of life for Antwon Cooper, 34, after he was shot in the head by police minutes after he was pulled over for a traffic stop. The Miami man’s family says the newly released video shows he wasn’t armed.
Miami police released bodycam and nearby surveillance video of a deadly shooting of the Black man on March 8. Cooper was pulled over by a Miami police officer.
“They still haven’t been able to tell us what the stop was really about, they just say it was something with a paper tag,” said Rawsi Williams, an attorney representing Cooper’s family.
The investigation is still ongoing, but the new video shows an officer approach Cooper asking for his license and registration. Cooper was driving a friend’s car, according to Williams — although the bodycam video shows Cooper saying the car is his. When Cooper failed to produce a license, the officer asked him out of the car, but once he exited the red Nissan Altima and the officer began patting him down Cooper tried to run away. Bodycam video shows Cooper and the officer tussling before the body camera falls off on the ground. That’s when a Miami police sergeant arrived on scene seconds later and opens fire, killing Cooper instantly.
Williams says bodycam video helps counter a narrative Cooper was armed, something the family has always denied. “The release of the video by the Miami PD was really a vindication of us and a corroboration of the facts we’ve already put out there,” Williams said.
While a gun did appear at the scene, exactly who it belonged to and how it got there is still unclear. Miami police have not responded to Atlanta Black Star’s request for more information, but on the day of the shooting, police said, “One of the two subjects was armed with a handgun…a handgun has since been recovered on scene.” Police referenced a passenger in the car at the time of the traffic stop, who was not arrested.
As the investigation continues into Cooper’s death, his family have been anguished. “It’s tearing me and my wife apart,” Melvin Bryant, Cooper’s grandfather, said.
“It hurts, a death is a death, but this kind of death, you can’t accept that, I can’t accept that, not at all,” said Helen Bryant, Cooper’s grandmother.
Amid their grief, the Bryants say they’ve also been faced with countering another narrative about their grandson’s criminal past, saying he’d turned his life around and had a regular job and his record had no bearing on what ultimately took his life.
“They just wanted to smear him like he was such a bad guy, and he wasn’t,” Helen Bryant said of her grandson’s character.
Attorney Frank Allen says, Cooper’s criminal past wouldn’t matter in their fight for justice because the crimes committed occurred more than a decade ago.
“Some of the stuff they’re trying to piggyback off of in litigation, that stuff isn’t even going to be admissible, so a judge isn’t going to admit it and a judge is not going to consider it and a jury isn’t even going to hear it,” Allen said, one of the Cooper family attorneys, said.
Although the family’s attorneys have filed a pre-suit for a wrongful death federal civil rights lawsuit, claiming Cooper was a victim of excessive police force, right now, the family says they aren’t concerned about litigation but would rather exhaust their efforts on more immediate justice against the Miami police sergeant who fired the fatal shot.
The family has started an online petition calling for the arrest of the sergeant.
“Our grandson got murdered in the street by a cop who shot him in the head, and he laid underneath a cover for seven hours, we’re not thinking about a lawsuit, we want justice for our grandson,” Melvin Bryant said.
“Can they give Antwon back to us? They can’t give him back to us, all the lawsuits in the world can’t give him back to us,” Helen Bryant asked while lamenting the loss of Cooper.
“He’ll never be able to get married, there will be no Antwon junior, he’ll never be able to have children,” Williams said of the long-lasting impacts of the shooting.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is still investigating the case.