MIAMI, FL – This is the world our police officers are currently living in.
On June 10th, Miami officers were dispatched to a protest in the Bayfront Park where a statue of Christopher Columbus stands.
They were responding to a call that five people were vandalizing the statue.
Upon their arrival, they found the statue defaced with spray paint. The markings were in reference to BLM (Black Lives Matter), George Floyd, and a Soviet hammer and sickle.
The five people believed to be responsible were arrested at the scene.
As the officers tried to leave the scene with the arrestees, another group of protesters blocked the police cars in and began to damage the vehicles.
An officer exited the vehicle and began to arrest a subject when two other protesters battered him with a skateboard.
As of last Tuesday, a 19-year-old man was arrested and charged for that crime.
Jeffrey Rolando Lopez-Espinal was taken into custody for aggravated battery of a police officer. What that means is that Espinal is alleged to have intentionally struck a clearly identifiable police officer with an object that is a weapon that could cause great bodily harm.
Although the officer was injured (cut in the back of the head) he was expected to recover.
Video collected from the scene showed Espinal was one of the two responsible for striking the officer in the back of the head with a skateboard while he was trying to make a lawful arrest.
That suspect is accused of striking a police windshield hard enough with a skateboard that it shattered. Espinal admits to being at the scene of the crime, however, advises he left prior to the criminal mischief of the police vehicles and the attack on the law enforcement officer.
Espinal is being held on a $10,000 bond.
The second person involved, a juvenile, Michael Marshall, 17, was arrested on Friday for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. Marshall was identified after police released video and pictures of the suspects accused of the incident.
Someone notified Crime Stoppers that Marshall was in fact the person seen as striking the officer with the skateboard. After police were able to confirm the anonymous tip, they took Marshall into custody.
The police department released a statement addressing the arrest:
“The Miami Police Department remains committed to facilitating peaceful protest, but we continue to emphasize that violence toward civilians and officers, destruction of public or private property, and other forms of lawlessness will not be tolerated. Such crimes will be investigated, and offenders will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.”
The Miami Police Department remains committed to facilitating peaceful protests, but violence toward civilians and officers or other forms of lawlessness will not be tolerated. Such crimes will be investigated, and offenders will be arrested and prosecuted. @Jcolina67 pic.twitter.com/1ckr07mLm5
— Miami PD (@MiamiPD) July 27, 2020
Attacks on law enforcement are, unfortunately, increasing, especially in areas that are seeing protests and riots as a result of the murder of George Floyd.
As seen in Law Enforcement Today, three federal police officers protecting a courthouse on the west coast were shot in the eyes by a laser from someone in the crowd. Those officers may never regain their vision.
In another incident, a federal officer was injured when he was struck in the head with a glass bottle. Rioters in that area also barricaded the front entrance to the courthouse and launched a commercial grade mortar towards the front doors, potentially hoping to trap federal officers inside as the explosive device detonated.
In Seattle, protests and riots there have seen almost 60 officers injured in one day alone over the weekend. One officer suffered a leg injury as a result of some type of explosive device detonating too close to him. The riot happened in a construction area near a Juvenile Detention Facility.
According to KIRO7, protesters met in order to discuss defunding the police department. It started out as peaceful until a portion of the group armed themselves and started a violent rampage around Capitol Hill.
Protesters through incendiary devices into construction trailers at the new construction site of the juvenile justice facility. It was spray-painted before it was torched pic.twitter.com/qJxETMeXC5
— Gary Horcher (@GaryKIRO7) July 25, 2020
Rioters firebombed and smashed everything in their wake, including the vehicle of Detention Officer Daryl Breaux. She told KIRO7:
“I didn’t deserve this, OK! I’m a hardworking individual, college-educated young lady. Black lady at that! Born and raised in Seattle.”
And check out what happened in Tennessee.
Police in Knoxville recently arrested a 20-year-old man under charges of attempted murder against a police officer. Authorities say that the suspect in question fired multiple gunshots at police officers while fleeing from a pursuit on July 25th.
The suspect involved in the July 25th shooting incident was identified as James M. Ketner, who police say self-surrendered to authorities on July 26th after eluding police during a chase the day prior.
Man, 20, charged with firing multiple shots at KPD officer https://t.co/z5VVTTkbfc
— WBIR Channel 10 (@wbir) July 27, 2020
At 2:15 a.m. on July 25th, officers from the Knoxville Police Department responded to Cumberland Avenue after reportedly hearing gunshots go off. That’s when officers allegedly encountered Ketner, as the suspect was seen in possession of a rifle hosting a pistol-grip and firing rounds into the air.
When police attempted to confront Ketner, he allegedly fled in a white Nissan Sentra. According the KPD press release, that is when a pursuit began:
“Officers attempted to make contact with the vehicle and observed it turn south onto Alcoa Highway. At that time, the suspect fired one round towards a KPD officer’s unmarked vehicle and [exited] onto Cherokee Trail.”
After shaking the pursuing officers in that initial instance, another unit spotted the white Nissan on Fern Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue about 90 minutes after that first interaction with law enforcement.
When police started to follow the suspect’s vehicle, Ketner reportedly stopped the car near Yellowstone Road and unleashed approximately 20 rounds on the pursuing officer’s squad car. Miraculously, no one was hurt – and the suspect didn’t even strike the officer’s vehicle once.
Still, Ketner was able to flee once again after that dangerous encounter.
Police were able to track the license down to a James Michael Smith, which happens to be the father of the suspected shooter. It was after that discovery that police spoke with the family, and Ketner turned himself into police.
Investigators suspect that Ketner may also have been involved in a previous shooting incident that happened earlier in the evening near the area where police first made contact with him, according to KPD spokesman Scott Erland:
“Based on how we initially made contact with the subject, with him being observed shooting randomly into the air in the Cumberland Avenue area, there is a high probability that he was involved in previous shots fired calls in the area.”
Ketner was noted as having a previous arrest on his record from May of 2019 for charges of kidnapping and domestic assault, which stemmed from an incident with his then-girlfriend. However, the case was reportedly dropped after the state failed to pursue a prosecution.
Upon turning himself in, Ketner was given a bail amount of $70,000 for the charges and reportedly already posted the bond shortly after booked into the county jail.
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In other investigations involving shots fired at officers, police say that a Florida man that is a homicide suspect was reportedly shot numerous times during exchanged gunfire with deputies in Georgia on July 22nd.
The suspect is currently hospitalized, while a deputy had reportedly suffered a graze wound during the fray.
Florida homicide suspect caught in south Georgia after shootout with deputies https://t.co/4THLR5W0Y5
— All Things FOX30 (@AllthingsFOX30) July 24, 2020
The suspect in question is 37-year-old William “Billy” Welland, from Tampa, Florida. Police arrested Welland in Lanier County after authorities in Tampa had Welland listed as a suspect in the killing of a 29-year-old man on July 21st.
Welland, a convicted felon, was just released from prison back in February of this year after serving a 10-year sentence for various robberies in Hillsborough County, Florida.
What led authorities in Georgia to happening upon Welland started out as a report of a home invasion in Lakeland where a homeowner was shot and the suspect tried to steal their vehicle.
Authorities were able to identify Welland as the suspect involved in the home invasion and shooting in Lakeland.
Updates in Lanier County OIS involving police & William “Billy” Welland, Jr., age 37.
— GA Bureau of Investigation (@GBI_GA) July 23, 2020
The condition of the homeowner shot in Lakeland has not been released at this time, but it was reported that they’re being treated at a hospital in Valdosta, Georgia.
Police were then able to spot the stolen vehicle that belonged to the Florida murder victim that Welland had been using since fleeing from the state, and a chase began.
While the chase was ongoing, Welland crashed the stolen Audi, and had managed to steal a mini-van while police were hot on his tail.
The chase had eventually ended in Lanier County, but that was also the point where Welland was said to have opened fire at deputies. A female deputy, who was reportedly on her first shift with the department after having previously worked with the Adel Police Department, was grazed by a bullet in her arm.
The deputy hit was said to have been treated at Valdosta hospital and released shortly thereafter. Investigators from the Tampa Police are currently in Georgia following up on the homicide investigation from Florida.
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