Family demands answers after South Florida man hit, killed by police car on Miami-Dade busway

(WSVN) - A family is demanding answers about a South Florida man’s death after he was hit and killed by a Miami-Dade Police car. 7’s Karen Hensel investigates.

Patrisia Honester: “Always smiling, always super happy.”

Sam Gillings was a father of two. He died one day before his 34th birthday.

Nakoa Robbins, nephew: “It’s hard, bro. It’s tough. That was my brother, more than my uncle.”

Patrisia Honester, sister: “Just a light, just a light. He was a shining light.”

It was after midnight on April 7 on the Miami-Dade busway, near Southwest 211th Street and U.S. 1.

The busway is a road for buses and emergency vehicles only, like police and fire.

Patrisia Honester: “Someone from traffic homicide called us. They just told me my brother had gotten struck by a police officer. At that point, they started to, you know, ask me questions: like, ‘Was he suicidal?’ They said that he was laying in the middle of the busway.”

Patrisia and Trinity are Sam’s sisters.

They say their brother had his share of personal problems but would not have put himself in harm’s way.

Trinity Gillings, sister: “I raised him. I took care of him. My brother, of course, he’s an addict. He’s been a recovering addict. He has a past of substance abuse.”

Patrisia Honester: “I have never, ever seen my brother in any type of state of mind that would ever tell him to lay in a street. He didn’t try to take his own life. It just doesn’t make sense.”

It has now been two weeks since Sam Gillings died on this busway, and his family says they have more questions than answers about that night.

Patrisia Honester: “I don’t understand how you could not see something right in front of you. When I’m driving, I can literally see a leaf or a branch. What’s a whole human being compared to a branch? I’m not understanding any of this.”

Trinity Gillings: “I’m not believing and I’m not buying the fact that my brother was laying out in the middle of the road, next to a sidewalk on a busway. I just want to know what happened — his last moments.”

The medical examiner’s office has not yet issued an official cause of death, and Miami-Dade Police tell us the case is still open, but the department did provide us more details, telling 7News a witness said Sam, “…told him that he was tired and proceeded to lay down” in “the middle of the southbound lane of the busway.”

And, that their officer was “unable to avoid striking” him, “came to an immediate controlled stop,” called dispatch and “began to provide medical assistance.”

Police said “speed was not a factor…” in the crash and the officer was not responding to a call.

The area of the crash was “…completely unlit with no streetlights,” and Sam was wearing a black T-shirt and dark jeans.

Patrisia Honester: “It’s horrible. It’s horrible. My family is broken. My family is broken.”

Sam Gillings’ family is now planning for his funeral Saturday as their pain persists.

Trinity Gillings: “My brother is gone. I had to make funeral arrangements today. We need help. It should not have happened. It doesn’t matter if he was on the streets, hanging out, under substance abuse. It does not matter. These are lives. It’s messed up. It’s messed up. It’s messed up.”

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