NORTH MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was involved in a shooting that left one woman dead near the Golden Glades Park and Ride station in North Miami-Dade.
Florida Highway Patrol and Miami-Dade Police and Fire Rescue units responded to the scene near Northwest Seventh Avenue and State Road 9, just before 7:30 p.m., Tuesday.
Officials said Trooper Ronald Melendez-Bonilla was conducting a traffic stop in the area when things somehow escalated with the driver of a white BMW.
According to FHP, the trooper was forced to fire in the confrontation with the driver, later identified as 32-year-old Latasha Walton, who subsequently died.
Walton’s cousin, Shaquesta Crockett, said, “I don’t understand. If you want to stop a car, why would you shoot somebody six times? What happened? Why is she not here? Why? For her to lose her life like that at 32 years old … Why? For what?”
Walton leaves behind a large extended family and two sons.
Lafortune Normil, Walton’s son, said, “I’m done crying ’cause my mom wouldn’t want that. She would want me to stay strong, and that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Cellphone video sent by a 7News viewer appeared to show the BMW nearly running over the trooper.
Moments later, a man is seen on the ground being handcuffed.
“For unknown reasons, there was some type of confrontation between the trooper and the driver at which time the trooper discharged his firearm into the vehicle,” said FHP Troop Commander Major Christopher Dellapietra.
Melendez-Bonilla was said to be OK.
Forensic investigators could be seen at the scene marking shell casings as they worked to figure out what led to the fatal confrontation.
Sharon Crockett, Walton’s aunt, said Walton was struck several times.
“They was gonna let us come and identify the body, but she got so many wounds, they won’t even want us to do it. They won’t even let us see her,” Crockett said.
Alphonso Wright Jr., Walton’s brother, said he still does not know what went wrong.
“I still don’t know what’s going on,” Wright Jr. said. “Still ain’t got no closure. It’s not right.”
Witness Odin Paul said he heard more than six gunshots.
“I was waiting for the bus, and then I heard gunshots, heavy gunshots, ‘Boom, boom, boom!'” said Paul. “A lot of gunshots.”
Several innocent bystanders waiting for the bus ducked for cover at the time of the shooting. Many were then left looking for another way home.
“Two hours waiting for the bus,” said Paul.
Back at the scene on Wednesday morning, friends and family members of the driver were visibly distraught.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has since taken over the investigation.
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